CHAD: N’djamena calm but east still insecure

Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Anti-government rebels that crossed the border from Sudan into Chad have been seen around several towns in the east but have not advanced on the capital N’djamena, where shops remain open and most people are going about business as usual.

Chadian government spokesperson Mahamat Hissene said in a statement on 16 June that the rebels had been held up by floods as they made their way across the vast, desert country and some of them had been forced to turn back.

However the Chadian government said in a statement on 17 June that the rebel columns, which were first spotted in the east on 11 June, have been joined by regular Sudanese army soldiers and two Sudanese helicopters that have bombarded Chadian positions 1,000 km east of N’djamena, close to the border with Sudan.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) announced on 17 June that it has temporarily suspended operations in eastern Chad, but the UN has not launched a full evacuation as it did when the capital was attacked by rebels in February.

Chadian President Idriss Deby, who earlier in the month declined to meet a UN Security Council delegation visiting N’djamena, on 16 June blasted the international community for not coming to his aid in a nationally broadcasted address.

“Too many arms are being used, too much blood spilled, too many lives lost without the African or international community being moved,” he said.

The African Union and the United Nations Security Council have both condemned the incursions into Chadian territory and urged the Chadian government and the rebels to respect the terms of previously mediated peace deals.