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Chadians React to World Bank Loan Suspension


Chad's government is calling for the World Bank to reconsider its decision to suspend loans to the country. The suspension was in response to Chad's decision to change bank-mandated laws. But public reaction to the loan suspension is mixed.

Chad's finance minister, Mahamat Ali Hassan, said Saturday that Chad was surprised by, what he called, the brutality of the move by the World Bank to suspend around $124 million in loans.

He said the decision by the head of the financial body, Paul Wolfowitz, comes at a particularly difficult time for Chad. He said he hoped the bank would reconsider.

Mr. Wolfowitz said he made the decision only after repeated attempts at mediation failed. He said Chad's government went ahead unilaterally with modifications to laws required by the World Bank under a 1999 deal to fund an oil pipeline to Cameroon.

That law required Chad, Africa's newest oil producing state, to set aside 10 percent of oil revenue in a fund for future generations. Chad's government says the law is too inflexible, and hindered its efforts to fight poverty in the short term.

Some Chadians, like this man in Ndjamena, see it as an issue of sovereignty.

He says the World Bank decision has come as a great relief to Chadians, who want to see their country grow up and stand on its own two feet. But, he says, times are tough. And, he says, it seems the World Bank waited until conditions in Chad were at their worst before making this decision.

Another man says that the money Chad will be missing out on could have helped pay government workers, who have not received their salaries in months.

He says the World Bank is right and wrong at the same time. But it is the responsibility of the government to meet the bank half way, he says, and revise the law. It is the government's fault too, he says.

Chad has produced oil since late 2003. But the country has become increasingly unstable in recent months, as the government has begun a military campaign against two rebel groups on its eastern border with Sudan.