Wednesday, October 25, 2006

FUC splinters - Analysts unsure of Chadian rebels intentions

dpa German Press Agency [via The Raw Story] Oct 25, 2006, Nairobi:
"This resurgence is not liable to prove as strong as it was in the April coup attempt," Richard Cornwell of the South-African based Institute for Strategic Studies told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

The rebel groups involved in the recent attacks have split from the United Front for Change (FUC), which attempted to bring down the government in April.

"The alliance hasn't translated into a cohesive, united rebel group," said David Mozersky, a regional analyst with the International Crisis Group.

The attempted coup on the government of President Idriss Deby in April came ahead of elections the following month that returned Deby to power after 15 years as leader.

The rebels stormed into Ndjamena with about 150 trucks mounted with machine guns, but the coup failed after the Chadian army successfully suppressed the rebellion.

The rebels' goal was to force some sort of political reform in the impoverished central African country, said Cromwell.

"They wanted to persuade the government that the time had come to negotiate and have genuinely open discussions about the country's political future."

After Deby's re-election, he organized talks with his political opponents but excluded the rebel groups.

"Deby only extended the talks to include domestic political opposition parties. There is still no channel for resolving this conflict other than fighting," Mozersky said.

The rebels may be entering these small villages near Darfur only to reassert themselves and remind Ndjamena of their presence.

"It's quite likely that what we are seeing is a way for the rebels to keep themselves on the scene. They may feel constrained to resume some sort of activity," Cornwell said.

The end of the rainy season in eastern Chad also means the rebels have regained mobility, he noted.

On Wednesday, the Chadian government accused Sudan of arming the militias, a charge it has made in the past but one that Khartoum denies.

Sudan, on the other hand, accuses Deby's government of arming the rebels in the embattled Darfur region, and in turn fuelling a conflict that has killed tens of thousands.

And while both conflicts have their own domestic origins - Darfuri rebels claiming their home region remains underdeveloped and Chadian militants opposing Deby's dictatorship - analysts say the region's violence is completely interrelated.

"The Chadian rebels are a proxy of Khartoum just as Darfuri rebels are at a certain level a proxy of N'djamena," Mozersky said.

Deby, himself a former rebel leader, deposed his predecessor Hissene Habre in 1990. Like the FUC rebels who vow to overthrow him, the president based his own rebel movement in Darfur and enjoyed backing from Khartoum.

But no matter what the rebels' next move, Deby appears to be gearing up for a fresh attack. Following the coup attempt in April, to the World Bank's dismay, Deby's government spent millions of dollars of its oil revenue on helicopters it said was necessary to combat the insurgency.

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