In the Volcan Army
Under the Tombalbaye Regime, Acyl had been a National Assembly deputy from Batha. In 1976 he passed to the insurgency, entering in Libya in the small Arab-dominated Volcan Army. With the support of Muammar Gaddafi, Libya's President, he opposed the group's leader Mohamed Baghlani, and when the latter died in a traffic accident in Tripoli in 1977, Acyl was promptly designed new leader of the militia. From that moment, he was known as Gaddafi's man in Chad.
Acyl rapidly strengthened his militia, which became famous for the quality of its fighters and imposed itself on the Chadian checker, garnering increasing support among the Arab element in the country. Important was also Libya's support to Acyl's group, that from 1978 became bigger and steadier than that to the other insurgent factions. In the same year Acyl had supported Libya's goal to reunite the FROLINAT's main factions, that resulted in the congress of Faya in which Goukouni Oueddei, leader of the People's Armed Forces (FAP), was made new secretary-general of the FROLINAT. The accord didn't last long: Gaddafi instigated Acyl to attack Goukouni Oueddei's People's Armed Forces (FAP) positions in Faya on August 27, 1978, in an attempt to wrestle from Goukouni the control of the FROLINAT, but was defeated. Acyl, that was at the time the FROLINAT's adjutant chief of staff in charge of the direction and administration of the military, promptly left Faya for Tripoli under the protection of Libyan troops.
Commander of the CDR
Acyl's faction, renamed Democratic Revolutionary Council (CDR) at the beginning of 1979, did not participate in the battle of N'Djamena that erupted in February 1979, which caused the downfall of any form of government in Chad. Also for this he was overlooked at the first international peace conference held in March in Kano, in Nigeria; here the main militias accorded themselves for creating a government of national unity, which would exclude all pro-Libyan factions.
As a reaction Acyl and other insurgent leaders such as Abba Siddick, Adoum Dana and Mohamat Said, menaced to create a counter-government; this was enough to cow Nigeria in organizing in April a second peace conference in Kano, in which all main rebel leaders were present, Acyl among them. The conference saw Goukouni and Habré attacking Acyl and the other faction leaders, whom they accused of having no real military strength on the ground. The participants to the conference were unable to reach any agreement on the formation of the cabinet, and a few weeks later Habré and Goukouni unilaterally agreed with the N'Djamena Accord to exclude Acyl and his allies from the new Transitional Government of National Unity (GUNT). In their view, Acyl was just "a Libyan provocateur".
The increasingly chaotic situation in Chad brought Nigeria to convene in May a third reconciliation conference, this time held in Lagos, to which all factions were invited. In response, Acyl and others arrived, but discovered that the factions that formed the GUNT had boycotted the meeting, causing the failure of the conference. Acyl now, with Said and Siddick, created on June 2 in northern Chad with Libyan military support a new political subject under Acyl's leadership, the Front for Joint Provvisional Action (FACP).
Amid rumors that Libya and Nigeria might recognize the FACP as Chad's legitimate government, the GUNT was given five weeks by the international community to coopt the other factions in the government. At the end, the GUNT submitted, and its factions participated to a second peace conference in Lagos, open to all parties. The result of the summit was the Lagos Accord, signed on August 21, under which a national unity government was to be formed. The new cabinet was sworn into office on November 10, with Goukouni Oueddei as chairman and Acyl as Foreign Minister.
On March 20, 1980 the Defence Minister Habré rallied with Egyptian and Sudanese support his militia, the Armed Forces of the North, in an attempt to overthrow Goukouni, giving way to the second battle of N'Djamena, which pitched Habré's men against the factions led by Goukouni, Acyl and the vice-president Kamougué. To defeat his rival Goukouni, probably persuaded by Acyl, signed on June 15 a defence pact with Libya; as a result 7,000 Libyan troops and 7,000 members of the Libyan-raised Islamic Legion were in Chad by the end of 1980, and helped expelling Habré from N'Djamena on December 16, after a week of harsh fighting.
This was followed on January 6, 1981 by a joint communiqué issued by Goukouni and Gaddafi, that stated that Chad and Libya had agreed to "work for the realization of complete unity between the two countries". The comuniqué, while strongly supported by Acyl and his faction, had a negative international response, and was also unpopular in Chad; Goukouni was now seen as a Libyan puppet. Relations between Goukouni and Gaddafi became strained, possibly because of rumors that Gaddafi was instigating a coup d'état against Goukouni, to replace him with Acyl. Goukouni's suspicions of plans to replace him with Acyl had been fuelled previously by the assassination by Libyans of two senior FROLINAT officials, and the clashes among the First Army and Acyl's CDR.
Consequently, when, on October 22, French President François Mitterrand proposed to send an Organisation of African Unity peace contingent into Chad to replace the Libyans, Goukouni and the GUNT asked the Libyans to leave immediately Chad (not without debate: 4 ministers, among whom Acyl, voted against the decision). Gaddafi rapidly complied, and the OAU troops; but these proved ineffectual.
Taking advantage of the Libyans' departure, Habré attacked in 1982 the GUNT, advancing across central Chad from his bases in Darfur, and occupied N'Djamena with hardly any opposition on June 7, forcing the GUNT to flee. A month later, on July 19, Acyl died in the southwestern town of Laï when he inadvertently stepped backwards into the spinning propellers of his Cessna aeroplane, a gift from Gaddafi. He was succeeded as leader of the CDR militia by the former Defence Minister Acheikh ibn Oumar.
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