Hissene Habre
Hissene Habre (13 September 1942-) was President of Chad from 7 June 1982 to 1 December 1990, succeeding Goukouni Oueddei and preceding Idriss Deby. Habre, backed by France and the United States, was a ruthless dictator who was responsible for the killing of 40,000 people, rape, and slavery. He was overthrown in a military coup in 1990.


Hissene Habre was born in Faya-Largeau, Chad on 13 September 1942 to a family of Sunni Muslim Toubou shepherds. He studied political science in France before returning home in 1971, and he joined the FROLINAT rebel group during the Chadian Civil War. Habre became a major leader of the rebels, and he split from FROLINAT to form the Armed Forces of the North rebel group in 1976. Based in eastern Chad and supported by Sudan, Habre managed to overthrow the Chadian government after capturing the capital of N'Djamena in 1982 and become the new president.

Dictatorial rule

Habre French

Habre meeting with France's Prime Minister Jacques Chirac and President Francois Mitterrand in Togo, 14 November 1986

From 1982 to 1990, Habre reigned as dictator of Chad, and he created a secret police force with the task of hunting down and killing opponents of him and his National Union for Independence and Revolution (UNIR) party. Habre's regime carried out ethnic cleansing against the Sara, Hadjerai, and Zaghawa ethnicities, tortured political prisoners, and used rape and slavery to intimidate dissidents. The United States and France backed Habre, hoping to contain the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya's regional ambitions, and Chad engaged in a border conflict with Libya to the north. The US Central Intelligence Agency assisted Habre with paramilitary support during his rise to power, and the US government gave a large amount of military aid to Chad during its wars with Muammar Gaddafi's Libyan dictatorship. Habre's government was weak despite its victory against the Libyan army and Chadian rebels, and France abandoned Habre due to Habre's refusal to create a multiparty democracy and his granting of oil drilling rights to American companies instead of French countries. On 2 November 1990, the French-backed general Idriss Deby and an army of Zaghawa rebels entered N'Djamena and overthrew Habre, who went into exile in Senegal with $11,000,000 of public money. "Africa's Pinochet", as he was called, was placed under house arrest until his 2013 arrest and trial for war crimes. In May 2016, he was sentenced to life in prison for human rights abuses.