Prior to independence, Chad was split politically. The Northerners, predominantly Muslim, were supporters of the Party of African Reunion (Parti de Regroupement Africain). The non-Muslim southern farmers were supporters of the Chad Progressive Party (Parti Progressiste Tchadien— PPT). In 1958, the Legislative Assembly of Chad was controlled by PPT members, who had a majority of 42 of the 65 seats. In the election of 31 May 1959, the PPT obtained 57 seats in the new Assembly, and François (later Ngarta) Tombalbaye of the PPT became prime minister. In February 1960, four smaller parties joined forces to form the opposition African National Party (Parti National Africain—PNA). In 1962, the PNA was dissolved, and Chad became a one-party state. In 1973, the name of the PPT was changed to the National Movement for Cultural and Social Revolution (Mouvement Nationale pour la Révolution Culturelle et Sociale—MNRCS). Following the 1975 coup, the MNRCS was banned, and the National Assembly was dissolved. As a consequence, all formal political activity ceased.
In 1984, Habré established the National Union for Independence and Revolution (Union Nationale pour l'Indépendence et la Révolution—UNIR), with a 14-member Executive Bureau headed by himself and an 80-member Central Committee. After the Déby coup, his Patriotic Salvation Movement (MPS) took over. Parties were legalized in 1992, and eventually 28 registered with the authorities. These parties continue to evolve, unite, disband, and reform.
Under the new constitution approved by voters in 1996 there are dozens of political parties and ideologically driven factions in the country, many of them more paramilitary than political.