Sunday, February 03, 2008

Sudan-backed Chad rebels seize capital

From DEBKAfile, February 2, 2008, 11:23 AM (GMT+02:00):

Chadian rebel fighters
According to some reports, troops of the United Military command of the rebel alliance were already in the presidential palace and ransacking parliament in Ndjamena Saturday, Feb. 2. A French military source later said Chadian government forces had beaten back the rebels surrounding the presidential palace.

French defense minister Herve Morin said France remains neutral in the Chad conflict. He spoke after President Nicolas Sarkozy conferred with cabinet members in Paris.

DEBKAfile: It is up to French president Nicolas Sarkozy to decide whether to let Sudan get away with a major victory in Chad or intervene with a large paratroop, helicopter and warplane force to oust the rebels. Sarkozy called an urgent meeting of cabinet meetings in Paris to discuss France’s options.

The rebel incursion surprised the French and US embassies before they completed preparations to evacuate their staff and nationals. Fighting near the airport prevented their departure. The 1,500 French expatriates were warned to stay indoors. It also began the week an EU peacekeeping force was due to start deploying advance troops in Chad and the neighboring Central African Republic to protect civilians and Darfur refugees. Their mission has now been suspended....

.....African Union leaders have strongly condemned the rebel attacks and vowed to reject any ”unconstitutional change” of regime in Chad. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was concerned by the fighting.

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