Constitution Writing & Conflict Resolution
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Chad 1996

This constitution was drafted after the head of state came to power in an armed struggle. The country suffered from a severe institutional crisis as well as substantial continuing insecurity.

In May 1992, a presidential communiqué announced the creation of a national conference to draft a new constitution. The president set up the first of several preparatory commissions. The commission’s 80 members articulated a plan for the conference after about a month of discussion. A second preparatory commission developed an initial text for the conference delegates to consider. It also appointed the delegates to the national conference, although in some instances the process of appointment was merely a formality and the recommendations of registered groups were simply accepted. This commission was chaired by the minister of interior and included representatives of government, political parties, and civil society (it was later referred to as the Tripartite Commission).

The conference was supposed to deliberate upon the initial text and agree on a final draft, all within one month. The role changed as a series of missteps slowed progress. The conference lasted 3 months and developed some proposals, but it delegated the development of a final draft to a transitional legislature. The transitional legislature carried out this process over the course of two years.

The national conference had 830 members, chosen by consensus by the members of the Tripartite Commission. The delegates included 116 from the public administration; 264 designated by the 37 authorized political parties and political-military organizations, some in exile; 130 delegates from civic associations, professional organizations, and unions; 176 representatives of the general population including sultans, canton chiefs, farmers, herders, and religious groups; and 144 resource people, including important national figures.

The proceedings of the conference were carried on television and radio.

Notes: Disorganization plagued this conference and sowed distrust among the delegates. The conference opened with procedural debates that consumed more than a week. The agenda then allowed each delegate to make a speech laying out a vision. This process consumed a large amount of time and may have bred intransigence. A Francophone-Arab split developed and grew worse because of delays in translating proceedings and documents into Arabic and Sara. The opposition was divided and its members devoted valuable time to denouncing one another. Finally, the constitutional affairs committee set up by the conference included no one with a law background, and the committee lost large amounts of time trying to decipher the meaning of legal terms. The conference was considered a failure by members of the public, according to several sources. The final draft met with sharp disapproval in some regions.

Chad 1996

General Idress Deby seized power in a November 1990 coup. He proclaimed a provisional government and suspended the constitution. In March 1991, he issued a national charter calling for a new constitution and elections within 30 months. Deby legalized opposition parties and thwarted two 1992 coup attempts while governing the country through a Higher Transitional Council. Responding to pressure from leaders of the southern areas, the newly legalized political parties, and the Diaspora, Deby agreed to convene a national conference to be held in May 1992 to draft a new constitution. At the end of December 1991, he established a commission of 80 members to plan the conference. The following July, the commission presented a plan. A Tripartite Commission comprised of representatives of political parties, the government and civil society met in November 1992 to continue preparations for the conference. The Tripartite Commission appointed 830 delegates from a cross-section of Chad’s society. Sovereign powers were granted to the delegates and a transitional body was to prepare a draft of the constitution in one month. The national conference opened on January 15, l993. The delegates elected 57 of its members to form CST, a transitional legislative body, to draft the constitution. Since the committee had no members with experience in constitutional law, eventually the CST requested assistance from an assembly of jurists. The conference was extended three months until the CST produced a document that was reviewed and amended by the executive before it went to the Transitional Council.

All the proceedings of the conference were broadcast on radio and television. In August l994, the government initiated a four-day national debate on the constitution. It limited the debate to written proposals and comments that the government would consider later. Three weeks before the referendum, the government funded an educational campaign. The final draft met with disapproval in some regions because it did not create an independent judiciary, concentrated much power in the presidency, and established Arabic as the official language. Voter turnout for the March 31, 1996 referendum was 71.20%. The Diaspora voted, but ballots from those living in Sudan, Iraq, Libya, Niger, and Nigeria were tainted by ballot tampering and so were disqualified. Of the accepted ballots, 61.50% were in favor of the new constitution. The constitution was put into effect on April 14, 1996.

In June 1996, Deby was elected president. He was re-elected in May 2001.




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