Home | News    Saturday 16 April 2005

Chad returns to Darfur mediation after rebel row


N’DJAMENA, April 16 (Reuters) - Chad said on Saturday it would resume mediation in the Darfur war after receiving promises from Sudan that it would act against Chadian rebels said by N’Djamena to be based on its neighbour’s territory.

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Idriss Deby

Last week, Chad accused Sudan of seriously threatening its security by recruiting and supplying some 3,000 rebels close to the border between the two countries.

The allegation strained relations already weakened because of the war in Darfur. Chad, Africa’s newest oil producer, withdrew as a mediator in the Darfur conflict a few days later.

A statement from the office of Chadian President Idriss Deby said the decision to resume mediation came after talks on Friday with a Sudanese delegation, led by the minister of investment.

"Concerned to preserve good relations between Chad and Sudan, President Idriss Deby accepts the resumption of mediation, while insisting that the Sudanese government carries out the dismantling (of the rebellion) to the end," the statement said.

"The Sudanese minister gave assurances to (Deby) on the start of operations to dismantle the armed forces hostile to Chad and present on Sudanese territory," it said.

Tens of thousands have been killed in Darfur, which borders eastern Chad, and more than 2 million people have fled their homes since Darfur rebels took up arms in 2003, accusing Khartoum of giving preference to Arab tribes.

The conflict has weakened relations between the two neighbours and has created political and economic problems for Deby, who has come under pressure from both sides for support and who has hosted peace talks between the warring factions.

Deby’s Zaghawa tribe overlaps the border between the two countries and its members are among the rebels battling Khartoum. Some rebel commanders in Darfur served in the 1990 uprising which brought Deby to power.

On Thursday, a Chadian diplomat was injured when unidentified gunmen opened fire on his vehicle in Darfur as he travelled back to his base in El-Geneina from Chad.

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