Home | News    Tuesday 21 March 2006

Chad says 100 military coup plot suspects arrested

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Mar 20, 2006 (N’DJAMENA) — Chad’s government has arrested 100 military officers and soldiers implicated in a failed assassination plot against President Idriss Deby last week, the security minister said on Monday.

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Chadian government troops guard rebel prisoners following an attack by Chadian rebels and army deserters on the town of Adre on the eastern border with Sudan, December 19, 2005. (Reuters).

Routouang Yoma Golom also ruled out peace negotiations with Chadian rebels and army deserters who are threatening to launch an offensive from the east of the landlocked oil producer to try to topple Deby as he prepares for a May 3 presidential election.

The Chadian leader, whose 16-year rule has been weakened by a spate of high-level military desertions in recent months, rushed home from an African summit a week ago to foil what officials said was a plot to shoot down his plane.

"There are around 100 members of the military implicated in this coup who have been arrested. They will be brought to trial," Golom told reporters, without identifying the suspects or explaining their involvement in the plot.

He added a military court would sentence them over the next one or two months.

Deby, himself a former army commander who seized power in a 1990 revolt he led from eastern Chad, reshuffled his military top brass and replaced his personal guard late last year as security fears increased.

He has repeatedly accused neighbour Sudan of backing efforts to overthrow him, a charge denied by Khartoum. Conflict in Sudan’s western Darfur region has also spilled over into Chad.

Golom said that since the government announced the failed coup plot last week, Deby had been visiting military barracks to ensure the loyalty of his troops.

"The situation is totally under control and calm has returned. The head of state has personally gone several times to military camps .... to restore order," the minister said.

Since last September, several waves of Chadian military officers have deserted with soldiers and equipment to join anti-Deby rebels in the east. At least one rebel group has given the president a public ultimatum to either start negotiations on democratic change or face overthrow.

NO TO NEGOTIATIONS

"Negotiating with coup plotters is out of the question," Golom said.

"If there’s someone who you’ve forgiven two, three times already and he wants to kill you, you’re not going to carry on forgiving him. I don’t seen any opportunity for negotiations."

Last week’s announcement of a coup plot came weeks before a presidential election which is widely expected to extend the rule of 53-year-old Deby.

Golom insisted there had been a plan to kill Deby, rejecting charges by one rebel leader that this had just been an invention by the government to cover up another embarrassing wave of high-level military desertions.

The minister said the arrested plotters "had coordinated with those who are rebelling (against Deby) from inside Sudan to allow them into Chadian territory".

"The plan was to strike in N’Djamena and when N’Djamena falls, the way is open and there’ll be less resistance for them to penetrate into Chad and reach N’Djamena," he added.

Analysts fear the threat posed to Deby by the rebels, who appear to be able to operate from Darfur, risked increasing the conflict already spilling over from that Sudanese territory, where ethnic and political violence has killed thousands.

Those deserting Deby have included members of his own Zaghawa ethnic group, some of whom blame him for not doing enough to help fellow Zaghawa kinsmen in Darfur who have been attacked by Sudanese government-backed Arab militias.

(Reuters)

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