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Chad Battles Determined Rebel Group UFDD
President Deby has faced numerous rebellions since taking power in 1990
Amin George Forji (amingeorge)     Print Article 
Published 2006-11-27 14:49 (KST)   
Chad President Idriss Deby Itno -- in office since Dec. 2 1990 -- has had to fight an insurgency throughout his mandate. It's no wonder then that his country is listed in the American bimonthly magazine Foreign Policy as one of the world's top 10 failed states.

With rebel activity almost an accepted way of life, Chadians, having fought a civil war between 1965 and 1993, were not surprised that coordinated rebel movements are once more on the move to overthrow the Deby government, which won re-election just six months ago.

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The rebel block in question, the Union Force for Democracy and Development (UFDD), which now oversees several anti-government rebel organizations, say they are bent on removing the president from power before the end of the year. The UFDD is comprised of ethnic groups both opposed to Deby and army deserters.

The latest fighting broke out on Saturday, in the eastern part of the country, just one day after the government extended a previous 10-day state of emergency in the region by six months. Parliament voted 77-0 in favor of the extension.

By Saturday afternoon, the UFDD announced in a radio broadcast that they had captured the major strategic eastern town of Abeche, with little resistance from the government forces. Abeche lies 885 kilometers east of the capital, N'djamena.

Also on Saturday, another rebel group affiliated with the UFDD announced it had defeated the national forces in Biltine, a town near Abeche, and said it was now in control of the town.

Government forces re-entered the city on Sunday and forced the rebels from the scene in the very same way that they had appeared.

"Abeche has been taken in its totality ... The rebels fled at 4 a.m this morning," Bichara Issa Djadallah, the defense minister announced on state radio on Sunday.

The French embassy on Sunday issued a series of statements hinting that the rebels were fast approaching the capital, N'Djamena. In the first of the statements, aimed at warning its citizens, the embassy said:"The military situation changed swiftly at the end of the morning. The presence of a large rebel column has been confirmed in the Bata region of the country, heading west."

A statement from the embassy later in the day indicated that government forces were in apparent control. "The rebels are no longer progressing the situation is normal in N'djamena," the statement said.

The recent rebellion began in the form of ethnic conflict in the eastern part of the country -- which borders with Darfur, Sudan -- with as many as 400 people being killed in clashes. The UFDD is said to have an allegiance with the Sudanese Janjaweed. It is also believed to be armed and financed by the Sudanese government.

With Chad harboring almost 200,000 displaced persons from the Sudanese region of Darfur, the Deby government suspects that the Janjaweed are exporting their conflict in Darfur to the Sudan to root out the "enemy." To do this, they need the UFDD to gain control of the eastern part of the country, where the refugees are based.

Commenting on the clashes, Antonio Guterres, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said he regretted the conflict and fears for the displaced in the region.

"The humanitarian lifeline there is very, very fragile and we fear that continuing violence in the region could easily sever it, jeopardizing the lives of thousands of Darfurians and Chadians who have already suffered too much," he said on Saturday.
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Amin George Forji

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