Chadian Social Action

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The Chadian Social Action (Action Sociale Tchadienne or AST) was an African political party founded in 1953 in Colonial Chad. It was born as an offshoot of the Chadian Democratic Union (UDT), and like the mother party it represented French commercial interest and Muslim and African traditional chiefs. It could count many prominent politicians among its ranks, like Gontchomé Sahoulba, Ahmed Koulamallah, Bechi Sow and Ahmed Kotoko. The AST early superseded the UDT in importance, gaining support principally in Logone, Mayo-Kébbi, Ouaddaï, Batha and Chari-Baguirmi. In the meanwhile a new party started gaining support in southern Chad, Gabriel Lisette's Chadian Progressive Party (PPT), also helped by the extension of the suffrage in 1956. The AST, instead, started being divided by serious dissensions, that brought Koulamallah and Sahoulba to leave the party, the latter forming with others the rival Groupement des Indépendants et Ruraux Tchadiens (GIRT). The first true national elections, held on March 31, 1957, were an astounding rout for the AST: not only was it defeated by the PPT, which took with its allies 47 seats out of 65, but was defeated even by the GIRT, which took 9 seats against AST's 8. In 1959, with Sahoulba and Koulamallah's short-lived governments, the AST briefly returned to power; but François Tombalbaye's ascent definitively confined the AST and the northern élites they represented to the opposition. Even in this role, once Chad became an independent state in 1960, they had reducing space as Tombalbaye, the new president, became more and more authoritarian. The AST's life terminated on February 1962, when the president banned all opposition parties and declared the PPT sole legal party.