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Chad battles determined rebels
by Amin George Forji
2006-11-30 10:39:41
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Chad’s President Idriss Deby, in office since December 2nd 1990, has had to fight insurgency throughout his mandate. It is no wonder that his country is listed in the American bimonthly magazine, Foreign Policy, as one of the world’s top ten failed states.

With rebellion activity almost an accepted way of life, Chadians, having fought a civil war between 1965-1993, were not surprised when coordinated rebel movements once more attempted to overthrow the government of Deby that won re-election just six months ago in May.

The rebel block in question is the Forces for Democracy and Development, known by the French acronym as UFDD, which now oversees several anti-government rebel organizations. The UFDD say they are bent on removing Deby from power before the end of the year and the group is comprised of ethnic groups opposed to Deby and army deserters.

The latest fighting broke out in the Eastern part of the country, just one day after the government extended a previous ten day state of emergency in the region by six months, after parliament voted 77-0 in favour. By the afternoon, the UFDD announced on radio that they had captured the major strategic eastern town of Abeche, with little resistance from the government forces. Abeche lays 550 miles east of the capital, N'djamena.

Also, another rebel group, affiliated to the UFDD, announced it had defeated the national forces in Biltine, a nearby town to Abeche , and was now in control of the town. The government forces re-entered the city and defeated the rebels, forcing them to disappear in the same way that they had appeared.

The French embassy issued a series of statements hinting that the rebels were approaching the capital, N'Djamena. In the first of the statements, aimed at warning its citizens, the embassy announced, "The military situation changed swiftly at the end of the morning. The presence of a large rebel column has been confirmed in the Bata region of the country, heading west." A later statement from the embassy indicated that the tension had cooled down and that the government national forces were in apparent control, "The rebels are no longer progressing…the situation is normal in N'Djamena". The statement read.

The recent rebellion began in the form of ethnic conflict in the eastern part of the country, which borders with Sudan’s Darfur, with as many as 400 people being killed in the clashes. The UFDD is believed to have allegiance to the Sudanese Janjaweed and maybe armed and financed by the Sudanese government. With Chad harboring almost 200,000 of the displaced persons from the Sudanese Darfur region, the government of Deby suspects that the Janjaweed are exporting their conflict in Darfur to the country to root out the “enemy”. To do this, they need the UFDD to gain control of the eastern part of the country, where the refugees are based. The region is currently under a six months state of emergency.

Commenting on the clashes, Antonio Guterres, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, regretted the conflict and feared for the plight of the displaced persons in the region, "The humanitarian lifeline there is very, very fragile and we fear that continuing violence in the region could easily sever it, jeopardizing the lives of thousands of Darfurians and Chadians who have already suffered too much."

Chad has on several occasions threatened to cut off relations with Sudan, and in May drew international attention, when she threatened to expel all the refugees in the country back to Sudan, unless the international community did something to bring the government of Omar al-Bashir back to order. Khartoum has always denied any involvement in Chad’s internal conflicts, just as much as she has denied involvement in the Darfur crises.

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