Home | News    Saturday 29 April 2006

Chad rebel groups join forces to prevent elections

April 28, 2006 (NDJAMENA) — Chad’s main armed rebel groups agreed to coordinate bids to scupper elections next week, they said Friday, vowing to do all in their power to stop President Idriss Deby Itno winning a third term.

Chad President Idriss Deby gives the victory sign to supporters at a small and brief pre-election rally in the suburbs of the capital, N’Djamena April 28, 2006. (Reuters)

The agreement joins the United Front for Change (FUC), which this month mounted an unsuccessful armed coup against Deby, and the Foundation for Change, National Unity and Democracy (SCUD), led by two of Deby’s nephews.

"We have created a military coordination with the FUC. We are going to coordinate actions in the ground," SCUD leader Timan Erdimi said.

"It is a big step towards reunification of the political-military movements" of the rebellion, he said.

"We are going to do all in our power to prevent the election of May 3. We will use all the means at our disposal, in coordination with FUC," he added.

FUC spokesman Albissaty Saleh Allazam confirmed the coordination agreement.

"We are not going to stay with our arms folded. We are not going to let them do it," he said.

FUC unites fighters lead by Mahamat Nour Abdelkerim of the Tama ethnic group from eastern Chad, while SCUD was formed by Tom and Timan Erdimi, twin nephews of the president and fellow Zaghawa tribe members.

Both groups have mounted separate recent bids to topple Deby. SCUD leaders attempting a coup on March 20 were repelled by pro-government army forces. The army then destroyed a SCUD base near the Sudanese border a few days later.

FUC later led a coup attempt which ended in a fierce battle with pro-Deby forces around the capital Ndjamena on April 9 and left more than 500 people dead across the country. Chad accused neighbouring Sudan of backing the coup.

Deby resisted calls to postpone the elections following the violence. He vowed in 2001 to stand down at the end of his second term but the constitution was amended last year to remove term limits for the president.

Civic and social groups in Chad have urged voters to boycott the elections, claiming they will not be transparent. A senior US diplomat said Tuesday that it was "never too late" to postpone the polls.

(ST)