Home | News    Thursday 5 January 2006

Chad president wants Darfur put under UN mandate

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Jan 4, 2006 (N’DJAMENA) — Chad’s President Idriss Deby urged the United Nations on Wednesday to take control of Sudan’s volatile Darfur region because he said Khartoum was using the conflict there to destabilise neighbouring states.

Deby, who faces threats from rebel attacks on Chad’s eastern frontier with Sudan and from army desertions at home, made the call during a meeting of central African leaders which he convened in N’Djamena to discuss tensions with Khartoum.

The Chad president has accused neighbouring Sudan of backing rebels opposed to him who last month attacked the eastern town of Adre bordering Darfur, where tens of thousands of people have been killed in chaotic fighting since 2003.

Khartoum has denied the Chadian accusations.

"This attempt at destabilisation knowingly orchestrated by Sudan aims to export the Darfur conflict in the sub-region, where the first victims are Chad and Central African Republic," Deby told leaders of the six-nation Central African Economic and Monetary Union (CEMAC).

The union groups Chad, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo Republic, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.

Deby said the fighting in Darfur, which pits Sudanese government forces and militias against local rebels, had driven thousands of Sudanese refugees into Chad. These could only return home if security in Darfur were restored, he added.

"I would like Darfur to be placed under a U.N. mandate," Deby said, although he did not explain how he envisaged this U.N. control being established.

Following the December 18 attacks on Adre, Deby has launched a diplomatic offensive to try to isolate Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir within the African Union, the continental diplomatic body.

ESCALATION RISK

Chad has made clear it objects to Sudan hosting an AU summit in Khartoum on January 23-24.

Traditionally the country which hosts the AU summit also takes over the rotating chairmanship of the African body, which has peacekeeping troops trying to maintain law and order in Darfur.

"All of Africa, and particularly the CEMAC, cannot let President al-Bashir be the next president of the AU," Deby told his central African colleagues.

Analysts say Chad’s dispute with Sudan risks escalating what is already a messy regional problem. The United States has condemned the violence in Darfur as "genocide" and France has troops stationed in Chad, Africa’s newest oil producer.

"The war in Darfur definitely has a negative, destabilising impact on the situation in Chad ... it has created divisions for the Chadian president, within his own people and security forces," said Dave Mozersky, a senior analyst for Sudan with the International Crisis Group thinktank.

"There is a very urgent need for the international community to take steps to recognise the regional implications of this ... if Chad descends into chaos like Darfur this could affect further to the west and south in Africa," he added.

Jean Nkuete, executive secretary of the CEMAC group meeting in N’Djamena, said the Darfur crisis posed a serious long-term threat.

Last week, several Chadian rebel groups opposing Deby announced the formation of a political and military alliance to try to force him from power.

This appeared to herald a growing insurgency problem for the Chadian president, a 53-year-old former army commander who himself led a revolt from the east to seize power in 1990.

(Reuters)

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