Up to 5,000 rebels are congregating on the Sudan side of Chad border
Source: Irish Times 24 February 2009:
Irish army chiefs fear violence could spread to Chad
Irish army chiefs in Chad fear the impending indictment of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for genocide could spark fresh violence in the troubled African country.
Sudan has long been trying to stop a possible International Criminal Court arrest warrant against Bashir on charges of genocide in Darfur, which borders Chad’s eastern flank.
Some 400 Irish troops are based around 40 kilometres from the Sudanese border, with a mandate to protect fleeing refugees.
Commandant Dan Harvey with the Eufor mission said military chiefs are concerned that if Bashir is arrested, a fresh wave of violence could be unleashed, spilling over into Chad.
“This is becoming a cornerstone issue,” Commandant Harvey said.
“It’s the aftermath, or the reaction to that, is what’s of concern. That could affect the regional situation.
“Who knows what the reaction is, it could create a spillover from the Darfur region into Chad, and that might affect Eufor.”
Up to 5,000 rebels are congregating on the Sudan side of the border, being closely monitored by Eufor.
With rebels from several rival factions congregating on the Sudan side of the border, there are worries that if Bashir is indicted, the bandits could form a united front and cross over into Chad.
“We are aware of groups of rebel factions inside the border in Sudan, with some of them up to 1,500-strong,” Commandant Harvey said.
But even if the groups fail to unite, there may still be an increase in skirmishes along the border if moves are made to indict Bashir.
The decision from the ICC is expected to happen in early March, potentially before Eufor hands over control of the mission to the United Nations on the 15th.
Sudan’s security chief has already warned foreigners that outlaws will target them if the President is indicted on war crimes.
Meanwhile, Defence Minister Willie O’Dea will visit Cam Ciara tomorrow as part of a whirlwind visit to the area.