US embassy cable - 05NDJAMENA58

CHAD'S PRESIDENT'S SON COMES CALLING

Identifier: 05NDJAMENA58
Wikileaks: View 05NDJAMENA58 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Ndjamena
Created: 2005-01-17 19:49:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: BEXP KDEM PGOV PHUM PREL CD SU Political Stability
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.


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FM AMEMBASSY NDJAMENA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0767
INFO AMEMBASSY ABUJA 
AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 
AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 
AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM 
AMEMBASSY LIBREVILLE 
AMEMBASSY LONDON 
AMEMBASSY NIAMEY 
AMEMBASSY PARIS 
AMEMBASSY YAOUNDE 
NSC WASHDC
AIT TAIPEI 0015
C O N F I D E N T I A L  NDJAMENA 000058 
 
SIPDIS 
 
 
NSC FOR AFRICA SENIOR DIRECTOR COURVILLE AND DIRECTOR SWAYNE 
LONDON AND PARIS FOR AFRICA WATCHERS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/15/2015 
TAGS: BEXP, KDEM, PGOV, PHUM, PREL, CD, SU, Political Stability 
SUBJECT: CHAD'S PRESIDENT'S SON COMES CALLING 
 
REF: NDJAMENA 2074 AND 1686 (2004) 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Marc M. Wall for reasons 1.4 (b and d). 
 
1.  (C)  Summary.  Chad's President Deby will accept the will 
of the people expressed in upcoming elections whatever the 
outcome, according to his son and personal secretary.  The 
Ambassador used the opportunity of a meeting with Brahim Deby 
to probe into his father's views on staying in power for a 
third term and flag interest in encouraging a democratic 
transition.  The twenty-something Deby also said his father 
has tasked him to wrap up a proposal by Globecom Systems for 
a major fiber optics communications project.  The son claimed 
President Deby is doing well after a medical check-up in 
France.  End Summary. 
 
2.  (U)  Brahim Deby, President Idriss Deby's eldest son and 
personal secretary, visited the Ambassador at the Residence 
January 15.  He had requested the meeting to discuss Globecom 
System's proposal to install a fiber optic communications 
system in Chad.  The discussion in the Residence's garden 
overlooking the Chari River covered much more. 
 
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Problems with Chad's Former Ambassador 
-------------------------------------- 
 
3.  (C)  Deby described his recent visit to Miami, Washington 
D.C., and New York.  He said he had visited Mahamoud Bechir, 
Chad's new Ambassador in Washington.  He mentioned Bechir's 
recent appearance at the White House for his swearing-in 
ceremony.  He joked about Chad's former Ambassador Soubiane, 
who remains in Chad's residence in the Washington area where 
he is seeking to organize an overseas opposition front 
against President Deby.  Soubiane is also widely rumored here 
to be in cahoots with Khartoum in stirring up an anti-Deby 
rebellion.  Soubiane "isn't stable, it's all about his 
personal ambition," the younger Deby commented. 
 
---------------------------------------- 
President Deby's Health and Travel Plans 
---------------------------------------- 
 
3.  (C)  Brahim Deby said his father, who has spent the last 
week in France for medical treatment, was undergoing an 
overdue check-up and is doing fine.  The President, he said, 
is staying on in France to rest and prepare for a visit to 
Taiwan in the next week or two.  He inquired about our 
impressions of Taiwan.  He plans to accompany his father on 
the trip. 
 
------------------------------------------ 
Interest in Globecom's Fiber Optic Project 
------------------------------------------ 
 
4.  (SBU)  Deby said he had been charged by his father to 
"work something out" on Globecom System's proposal to install 
a fiber optic communications system.  The New York-based 
company has proposed a nearly USD 190 million project linking 
into the fiber optic capacity along the Chad-Cameroon oil 
pipeline and extending it to the rest of Chad.  Deby recalled 
that the Ambassador had mentioned the project in his last 
meeting with his father.  The Ambassador described the 
proposal and shared copies of letters and documents Globecom 
Systems had sent Deby's father.  He expressed appreciation 
for President Deby's interest, agreed with the need to 
develop Chad's telecommunications links, and suggested Chad 
complete a technical and financial evaluation of the project. 
 Deby said he would prepare a letter of invitation to 
Globecom to visit Chad and pursue discussions. 
 
------------------------- 
A Rich and Growing Agenda 
------------------------- 
 
5.  (C)  The Ambassador told Deby he welcomes the opportunity 
to represent the United States in a country where we have 
such a rich and growing bilateral agenda.  He described 
recent and planned Congressional visits.  He noted Darfur, 
Sudanese refugees, cooperation on counter-terrorism, and 
Chad's oil revenue management scheme as issues of special 
 
concern.  Deby said Chad is eager to cooperate with and has 
much to learn from the United States.  He commented that Chad 
is a "pioneer" in its plan to manage oil revenues.  The 
Ambassador said the United States also wants to do what it 
can to strengthen democratic institutions in Chad.  Deby 
cited plans to hold a referendum on revising the constitution 
to permit his father to stay on in power.  He observed that 
the United States only rarely amended its constitution.  The 
Ambassador noted that the United States had done the reverse 
of what Chad is preparing to do in how our Constitution 
treats term limits.  In 1951, the United States adopted an 
amendment to allow the President to serve no more than two 
terms. 
 
-------------------------------------------- 
Broaching Concerns About Presidents-for-Life 
-------------------------------------------- 
 
6.  (C)  Keying off comments by Chad's Foreign Minister at a 
dinner with Senator Feingold January 13 (septel), the 
Ambassador broached the issue of a U.S. visit by President 
Deby.  The son referred to the Corporate Council for Africa's 
invitation to attend the U.S.-Africa business summit in June. 
 He recalled his father's visit to the Pentagon as Chad's 
Army Chief of Staff in the eighties.  The Ambassador said he 
would like to encourage Washington to receive his father 
again, but his ability to do so would depend on what happens 
with the referendum and the following presidential elections. 
 He said we would respect the outcome of a process conducted 
freely and transparently.  We would also look forward to 
working together to strengthen cooperation even further.  But 
he stressed that our deepest values as a nation lead us to 
believe in the importance of putting in place a process for 
handing power over peacefully.  We are uncomfortable with the 
idea of a "president-for-life," he added. 
 
7.  (C)  The younger Deby said much has changed in Chad since 
1990.  The press is free and people can speak out against the 
government.  He said a democratic electoral process would 
move forward and the government would accept whatever the 
people decide.  He raised concerns about the need to maintain 
stability.  Chad does not want to go the way of Cote 
d'Ivoire, he said.  He did not see anyone else capable of 
assuming leadership.  He also did not think that the U.S. 
model could be applied directly to Chad.  He mentioned that 
Gabon's President Bongo is seeking a mandate to continue in 
power. 
 
8.  (C)  In reply, the Ambassador questioned whether Bongo 
should be considered a good example.  He stressed the need 
for enlightened leadership in facilitating a democratic 
transition.  He highlighted his respect for President Deby's 
achievements and his view that Deby has an opportunity to 
secure his reputation as a leading African statesman.  He 
reiterated that much would depend on what happens over the 
next six months or year.  He said he would welcome the chance 
to pursue these issues with President Deby.  The younger Deby 
eagerly agreed that such an exchange would be valuable. 
 
------- 
Comment 
------- 
 
9.  (C)  The polite and self-effacing manner of Deby's eldest 
son in this encounter belied his reputation as a 
rabble-rouser.  He has brawled with French soldiers in bar 
fights in N'Djamena and tangled with the law in Canada over 
allegedly having issued death threats.  His father's move to 
appoint him personal secretary after his return from his 
studies in Ottawa last summer raised hackles that the 
President was trying to groom his son to be his successor. 
The son, for his part, claims only that he plans to return 
overseas to pursue a doctorate in politics or finance.  He 
serves now as perhaps the most direct link to President Deby. 
 We will look for further opportunities to pursue this 
dialogue with the elder Deby face-to-face. 
 
10.  (C)  Needless to say, the claim by the son that the 
father will accept the will of the people voiced in free 
elections is disingenuous.  There is little doubt here that 
the President will get his way on the referendum to overturn 
 
term limits, even if the voting is free of irregularities. 
Nor is there doubt that he would win an election for a third 
five-year term, as he now appears committed to seeking.  Our 
views on his plans would nonetheless not be ignored.  As our 
dialogue with him on this subject deepens, we will need to 
consider how to use his interest in a visit to Washington to 
advance our agenda in Chad, including encouraging democratic 
change. 
 
11.  (U) Khartoum and Tripoli minimize considered. 
WALL 
 
 
NNNN 

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