Wednesday, May 06, 2009

France's Kouchner Discusses Rebel Offensive With Chadian Minister

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner on Wednesday met with his counterpart from Chad in Paris as Sudanese-backed rebels were battling their way deep into Chadian territory.

Kouchner discussed the rebel offensive in eastern Chad with Moussa Faki Mahamat, the foreign ministry said.

France has 1,100 soldiers serving in its former colony Chad under a bilateral accord and 800 of its troops are serving in a U.N.-led force that last month took over a European mission to protect refugees in camps.

Source: AFP (PARIS) report via Dow Jones Newswires 06 May 2009: France's Kouchner Discusses Rebel Offensive With Chadian Minister
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From Radio France Internationale May 06, 2009:
Chad/Sudan/France: Within days of treaty, Sudan-backed rebels enter Chad
Sudan Minister

Photo: Sudanese Minister of International Cooperation Tijani Seleh Fudail, in Doha, Qatar, on 3 May 2009 (Reuters)

Armed rebels supported by the Sudanese government moved deep into Chad on Tuesday. This prompted Chad to accuse Sudan of breaking the peace treaty the two countries signed on Sunday.

The French government has confirmed eyewitness reports that armed groups have entered eastern Chad over the last two days.

"It appears that they have gone several kilometers into Chadian territory," said French Foreign Ministry spokesperson Eric Chevallier. He told RFI that France is still verifying their exact position and number.

Chevallier also said that France was not planning to defend the Chadian government militarily. "There is not such a mutual defense agreement", he said.

Interview: French Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Eric Chevallier
06/05/2009 by Marco Chown Oved

The offensive continued Wednesday as Chadian Foreign Minister Moussa Faki Mahamat was received by his French counterpart Bernard Kouchner in Paris to discuss an international reaction.

The UN mission in Chad said that on Monday it stepped up military patrols around the town of Goz Beida, and ordered humanitarian personnel to restrict their movement. Rebels attacked Goz Beida in June.

Chadian government spokesperson Mahamat Hissene said that "in launching this programmed aggression against Chad, the Sudanese regime has reneged on its signature in Doha".

On Sunday in Doha, Qatar, Sudan and Chad signed an agreement to stop hositilities and the use of force. The two countries have made a number of such agreements before, but they have fallen apart because of accusations that either side is supporting rebels in the other country.

Sudan denies that, in this case, it is supporting the rebels.

Omar Ismail, an advisor to the anti-genocide project at the Center for American Progress in Washington, told RFI that there is little doubt that some of the rebels in Chad are backed by Sudan. He also said that they are probably not tied to Janjaweed militias in Darfur.

Interview: Omar Ismail, an advisor to the anti-genocide project at the Center for American Progress in Washington
06/05/2009 by Marco Chown Oved

Ismael described the fighters as "ragtag rebel groups from different ethnic backgrounds... but they have a common goal, that is, to get rid of [Chadian President] Idriss Deby in [Chad's capital] N'Djamena".

Chad also said on Wednesday that the rebels have the ultimate objective of reaching N'Djamena.
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Rebels, military 'clash in Chad'
NDJAMENA (AFP) 06 May 2009 — Sudan-backed rebels have clashed with Chadian government forces in the southeastern Salamat region and were progressing towards the capital Ndjamena, the rebels claimed Wednesday.

The Union of Resistance Forces (UFR) rebels said a "very short battle" took place Tuesday near Chad's border with Sudan and the Central African Republic.

There was no immediate government confirmation of the clash.

"UFR forces continue to progress towards total control of Chad's main towns," rebel spokesman Ali Ordjo Hemchi said in a statement.

"We are doing everything in our power to reach Ndjamena. Our final objective is Ndjamena," another rebel official told AFP by telephone.

In the statement, Hemchi said the rebels captured 12 army vehicles and destroyed nine others in Tuesday's clash between the towns of Tissi and Haraz-Mangue, claiming the government troops fled.

He gave no details of casualties on either side.

Chad's government announced Tuesday that the rebels had launched an offensive backed by Sudan, accusing its neighbour of reneging on a peace agreement signed at the weekend.
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See Sudan Watch - April 24, 2009: UFR threatens war to overthow Chad's government - UN mission in Chad needs boosting

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