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Security Council urges Chad to restore relations with Sudan

June 12, 2006 (NDJAMENA) - A United Nations Security Council mission that visited Chad at the weekend urged President Idriss Deby to restore relations with neighbouring Sudan.

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Idriss deby

"We hope that the tension between Chad and Sudan will drop," the head of the UN delegation, French Ambassador to the United Nations Jean Jacques de la Sabliere, said after the meeting.

The 15 members of the UN Security Council arrived in N’djamena at the tail end of a trip to the Sudanese capital Khartoum, the troubled Darfur region of western Sudan, and camps for refugees and displaced Chadians in the volatile east of that country.

The Security Council has approved turning an existing African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur, that has largely failed to end fighting in the region, into a UN peacekeeping mission. But to date, the Sudanese government has refused an international UN force in its territory.

Chad cut diplomatic relations with Sudan on 14 April after armed groups, which Chadian president Idriss Deby says are sponsored by Sudan, launched a dawn attack on the capital N’djamena.

Running street battles between rebels who vowed to overthrow the president and the Chadian national army, left more than 300 mostly soldiers and rebels dead.

"There must not be a change of power by arms," Ambassador Sabliere warned.

On Saturday, the Chadian Minister for Foreign Affairs Ahmat Allami suggested that Sudan be formally investigated by the Security Council.

Allami said Sudan’s alleged sponsorship of anti-government rebels violates non-aggression treaties Chad and Sudan have signed.

In the east of Chad, aid agencies estimate more than 50,000 Chadians have fled their villages after bloody armed attacks by militia groups, many of whom base themselves in Sudan.

Sudan’s government has denied it is responsible for the attacks inside Chad, but has accused Deby of sympathising with groups fighting against it in the war-torn Darfur region of western Sudan.

The Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA) rebel group, opposed to the Sudanese government in Khartoum, is openly aligned with the Chadian army, and has bases in Chadian garrison towns.

Meanwhile the Chadian FUC rebel group, an alliance of 13 armed anti-Deby groups that is led by Mahamat Nour, a former Chadian army captain, is based in Darfur, from where it has launched attacks inside Chad.

As well as holding meetings in N’djamena, the 15 members of the UN Security Council visited camps holding more than 30,000 Sudanese refugees and displaced Chadians close to Goz Beida, a garrison town 85 kilometres west of the Sudan border.

"The international community should recognise the burden that Chad has carried for several years by providing lodging to refugees on its territory. Chad does merit some encouragement in that sense," Sabliere said.

(IRIN)