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Chad Threatens to Cut Oil Exports as World Bank Cuts Aid

Chadian President Idriss Deby vowed Saturday to shut down its oil production if the World Bank continues to suspend much-needed aid.

In the days after a rebel incursion rocked this capital earlier this week, Chad's embattled president, Idriss Deby, has made one proclamation after another. Friday Chad cut diplomatic ties with Sudan, which Chad accused of backing the rebels. He has also threatened to kick out more than 200,000 people seeking refuge in eastern Chad from Sudan's Darfur violence.

Now, President Deby is threatening to shut down the country's oil production, which some analysts say is an attempt to strong-arm the World Bank into releasing at least $124 million in promised aid.

The aid was frozen after President Deby reneged on a previous agreement with the World Bank to use most of the country's new-found oil wealth to improve the living standards of ordinary Chadians, who are among the world's poorest.

Chad's oil revenue has netted about $307 million since October 2003, when it began shipping oil.

Instead of using that money to reduce poverty, critics say, Chad's government has spent millions on its military and weapons, as rebel groups in the country's east seem more intent than ever on ousting President Deby, who took power himself in a coup 15 years ago.