Goukouni is from the northern half of the country and is the son of Oueddei Kichidemi, derde of the Teda. He entered politics in the late 1960s as a militant in the National Liberation Front of Chad (FROLINAT) led by Abba Siddick. FROLINAT resented the political dominance enjoyed by southerners under the presidency of François Tombalbaye and advocated the participation of central and northern peoples. After Tombalbaye's assassination in 1975, tensions between the two geographical halves escalated into a convoluted civil war that involved several Chadian political groups, Libya, the United States, and France. The conflict was to last through the 1980s. Goukouni viewed the dictatorial Tombalbaye regime as an instrument of continued French hegemony in Chad.
Goukouni was installed as interim Chadian head of state on 23 March 1979. He was acclaimed President of the Transitional Government of National Unity (GUNT), which sought reconciliation between warring factions, on 10 November 1979. Goukouni, a Cold War neutralist who supported Libya, was Head of State; Wadel Abdelkader Kamougué (a southern moderate) was Vice President; Hissène Habré (a pro-West northerner) was Minister of Defence; and Acyl Ahmat (a strongly pro-Libyan Arab) was Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Personal rivalries (especially between erstwhile allies Goukouni and Habré) limited the government's effectiveness and contributed to the perception of Goukouni as an indecisive puppet of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. There was even a Libyan proposal to annex Chad, which drew opposition from all ideological camps. In a last-ditch attempt to salvage his beleaguered government, Goukouni appointed Djidingar Dono Ngardoum as prime minister on 19 May 1982. The GUNT was, however, overthrown by Habré loyalists on 7 June 1982. Goukouni fled from N'Djamena across the Chari River into Cameroon; he subsequently went into exile in Tripoli, Libya. Acyl died in an unrelated accident, and Kamougué lost much of his base as Habré consolidated his power into a centralized military dictatorship.
By 1983, Goukouni returned to Chad with substantial Libyan assistance to fight the Habré régime through guerrilla warfare. He was the most recognized Chadian oppositionist, whose views carried significant weight, though Habré granted only limited concessions in an attempt to reconcile with Goukouni. The former president reportedly demanded a new constitution and liberalization of political party activity, which Habré did not accede to.
In October 1986, Libyan police arrested Oueddei, and in the process they shot him in the stomach. He then broke with the Libyans and went into exile in Algiers instead in February 1987. However, some questioned whether he had truly broken with the Libyans, and in July 1987 Oueddei said that he was on good terms with them.
Goukouni met with Chadian President Idriss Déby on April 17, 2007, in Libreville, Gabon, to discuss ways to end a civil war. Saying that Chad was in grave danger, Goukouni expressed a hope that he could use his "moral authority" to save it. He said that in turn he wanted to be allowed to return to Chad from exile in the future, and he said that Déby had agreed to that. On April 19, the leaders of two rebel groups rejected Goukouni's offer to mediate.
Goukouni returned to Chad on July 30, 2007, along with about twenty other exiled opponents of the regime, for a discussion with Déby regarding the rebellion and how to resolve the situation. Goukouni and the others left Chad and returned to Libreville later on the same day.
Amidst the 2015 Burundian unrest, central African leaders, including Déby, designated Goukouni as special envoy to the Great Lakes region on 25 May 2015 in order to help resolve the situation in Burundi.
- James Brooke, "Habre Policy in Chad: Name Ex-Foes to Key Posts", The New York Times, August 18, 1987.
- James Brooke, "Chad said to win vast Libyan booty", The New York Times, April 1, 1987.
- "Tchad: Idriss Deby rencontre l'ex-président Goukouni Weddeye à Libreville", AFP, April 17, 2007 (French).
- "L'ancien président Goukouni Weddeye veut "sauver le Tchad" de l'éclatement", AFP, April 18, 2007 (French).
- "Les rebelles rejettent la médiation de l'ex-président Goukouni", AFP, April 19, 2007 (French).
- "Une innovation dans la démarche de restauration de la paix au Tchad", Chadian government web site, July 31, 2007 (French).
- "L'ancien président tchadien Goukouni Weddeye reçu par le chef de l'Etat nigérien", Xinhua, March 4, 2008 (French).
- Clement Manirabarusha and Goran Tomasevic, "Opposition breaks off Burundi peace talks over killing of opposition leader", Reuters, 25 May 2015.
|Head of State of Chad
Lol Mahamat Choua
Lol Mahamat Choua
|Head of State of Chad