Chad president appoints new ministers to tackle security, economic woes

August 15, 2016 10:05 AM EDT

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By Madjiasra Nako

N'DJAMENA (Reuters) - Chad's president has appointed new ministers of defense, finance and oil, in a bid to address persistent insecurity and improve its faltering economy.

Bichara Issa Djadallah was named defense minister, according to statement on the presidency's website. He returns to a post he held in 2008 when the country faced rebel attacks from its eastern border with Sudan.

Mbogo Ngabo Seli, a former official with the Bank of Central African States, was named finance minister, and Bechir Madet, a lawyer with close ties to the president, became head of the oil ministry.

President Idriss Deby made the appointments after he was inaugurated last week for his fifth term in office.

Prime Minister Pahimi Padacke Alber and the rest of the government kept their posts.

The International Monetary Fund expects Chad's economy to contract by 1.1 percent this year because of the weak oil market and regional insecurity. The country produces more than 100,000 barrels of oil per day and has been hit by low crude prices.

The 64-year-old Deby, who won a lopsided first-round victory in an April election, has become an important ally of the West in the fight against Islamist militants in west Africa .

A former French colony, Chad hosts the headquarters of France's regional anti-militant operation, known as Barkhane, and its 3,000 troops.

Chad's army, one of the region's strongest, now plays a key role in efforts to combat neighboring Nigeria's Boko Haram, an Islamic State affiliate. It also confronts attacks by the group on its own soil.

More than 100,000 people in Chad do not have enough to eat, because of being forced to flee and disruptions to commerce, according to aid agencies.

(Reporting By Madjiasra Naki, writing by Aaron Ross, editing by Edward McAllister, Larry King)



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