If the press is pluralist in N’Djamena, it is also very poor and subject to ethnic turmoil that regularly destabilises the neighbouring Darfur region of Sudan. Left more or less in peace by the government despite the existence of draconian legislation, it was put to a rude test in 2005. Local radios in particular were often targeted by the powerful and politically motivated suspensions are not unusual. Controversial constitutional reform, repeated political crises, a powerful political police and exacerbated intercommunity tensions created an explosive cocktail that put four journalists in prison in July 2005. The crisis between the government of President Idriss Déby and an often critical private press, reached its apogee.
Reporters Without Borders carried out an in the field investigation at the end of September and helped restore dialogue between the two sides. The journalists were released and a new draft law was proposed, but the country is so destabilised by armed groups, desertions and clan struggles that democratic reform proved difficult to put into effect. Tensions are still running high and real press freedom has yet to be won.