Chadian opposition messes up the papers

Asmara, N’djamena works to internationalize the crisis of Darfur


April 16, 2006 (KHARTOUM) — The Sudanese political forces have unanimously rejected the accusation leveled by Chad against Sudan of backing the armed opposition against Idris Deby’s regime. The opposition warned that the situation in Chad may reflect negatively on the Darfur issue.

In a statement to the pro ruling party SMC, the former Sudanese minister of defense, who is also one of leaders of opposition Ummah Party of sadiq al-Mahdi, Rtd Maj-Gen Fadhlalah Barmah Nasir, has called on the Chadian regime to initiate political dialogue with the rebels to bring about stability and also to discuss the course which made them resort to armed struggle, adding that Sudan will get affected by the unstable situation in Chad.

For his side, Mohamed Youcif Ahmad al-Mustafa, who is one of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) leaders, has considered what is happening in Chad as a major defect in the distribution of development projects in various regions in the country as well as the of lack of response to the needs of the various groups which make up the Chadian society.

Osman Omar al-Sharif who is one of the leader of the Unionist Democratic Party has said that the bad economic situation which Sudan is experiencing can act as enough evidence in negating the accusation levelled by the Chadian president against Sudan of backing the opposition in his country, adding that France, which controls the destiny of Chad, has acquitted Sudan of this accusation.

In the same course Chad President Idriss Deby on Friday threatened to expel 200,000 Sudanese refugees sheltering in the east of the country after repeating accusations that Sudan supports rebels who launched a new offensive to oust him this week.

Deby said that the international community has until June to resolve the ongoing Darfur conflict in Sudan, which lies over Chad’s eastern border, which he said would help restore stability in his own country. If not, the refugees will have to leave.

“If after June we can’t guarantee the security of our citizens and the refugees, then it is up to the international community to find another country to shelter those refugees,” he said at a pro-government rally in N’djamena on Friday morning.

There are some 200,000 refugees from Sudan’s troubled Darfur region in eastern Chad according to the UN, making it one of the world’s humanitarian hot-spots. The UN’s refugee agency UNHCR  said on Friday afternoon that they had not been formally notified of Deby’s deadline.

Chad has repeatedly accused Sudan of sponsoring Chadian rebels, who this week attacked government forces in towns across the country, and on Thursday morning attacked the capital N’djamena. Sudan’s foreign ministry has denied any link with the groups.

“We cannot accept that a neighbor employs mercenaries to destabilize us. We are waiting for France and the international community to condemn as strongly as possible this aggression,” said Deby.

The Darfur conflict erupted in early 2003 when the rebels took up arms against the Sudanese government in Khartoum to end what they call the neglect and oppression of the inhabitants of Darfur, western Sudan.

In eastern Chad at the Goz Beida camp, a major refugee camp some 120 km south of Abeche, the number of displaced Chadians seeking assistance is confirmed by UNHCR to have more than doubled from 3,500 to more than 7,000 over the last week alone. The new arrivals said they were fleeing bandit attacks, and many of the arrivals presumed the Janjawid were responsible, said aid workers.

“These bandits are taking advantage of the general state of lawlessness in the east. As government forces are mobilized to combat the rebel incursion, they have stepped into the vacuum and been pillaging villages,” said UNHCR spokesman Matthew Conway.

Deby issued his June deadline at a pro-government rally in the central Independence Square in N’djamena, where more than 100 of some 270 captured rebel forces were paraded before journalists. Some 300 to 400 people turned out to watch.

One western diplomat who witnessed the event described it as a “show trial” as captured rebels pointed out serving soldiers they accused of being conspirators, who were publicly beaten and later detained.

A representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross confirmed on Friday that at least 150 military casualties are in the army hospital following this weeks fighting, and more than 80 casualties are being treated at the general city hospital.

Although conditions had returned to normal in N’djamena on Friday, with restaurants crowded and traffic circulating, there was a heavy military presence on the streets, and foreign security experts said that they were not ruling out more attacks in coming days.

Rebel spokespeople have told the media that they are massing in the south for more attacks on the capital; however it has been impossible to independently verify their claims.

“The situation is very volatile”, said a western diplomat who asked not to be named. “It’s hard to imagine that anyone rational would exclude the possibility of more attacks.”

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