Thursday, March 13, 2008

Chad News Bulletin: Rebels Move Across Border; Peace Agreement With Sudan Postponed at OIC

Chad says Sudan sent rebels across its border

Thu 13 Mar 2008, 13:09 GMT
By Pascal Fletcher

DAKAR (Reuters) - Chad on Thursday accused Sudan of sending anti-government rebels across their border into its territory as international mediators struggled to broker a fresh peace accord between the two neighbours.

The accusation soured the opening in Senegal on Thursday of a summit of the world's Islamic leaders, including the presidents of Chad and Sudan who were due to meet to try to reactivate a string of failed past peace pacts between them.

Landlocked Chad, an oil-producing country in central Africa, beat back a rebel attack on its capital last month.

"The Chadian government informs national and international opinion that Sudan on Wednesday March 12, 2008 launched several heavily armed columns against Chad," an official statement released in N'Djamena said.

Calling the attacking forces "mercenaries", the usual term it uses for Chadian rebels, the Chadian government said the incursion took place at Moudeina on its eastern frontier with Sudan's Darfur.

There was no immediate independent confirmation of an attack, but international sources in Sudan's war-torn western Darfur region on the border said Chadian rebels had gathered there earlier this week. Sudan made no immediate comment.

The Chadian rebel National Alliance denied the accusation from N'Djamena, calling it an attempt by President Idriss Deby to confuse the international community. It said its forces were already previously operating inside Chad.

Chad, which has often accused Khartoum of backing insurgents fighting to topple Deby, made the latest accusation shortly before a summit of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) opened in Dakar. Sudan routinely denies such charges.

On the eve of the summit, Deby and Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir had been due to meet in Dakar late on Wednesday for talks under Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade's mediation.

But Bashir failed to show up for the late night encounter after keeping Wade, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and U.S., French and European Union diplomatic witnesses waiting for nearly three hours at the presidential palace.

Wade, embarrassed, said the Sudanese leader had told him he had a headache, and rescheduled the meeting for Thursday.

Sudanese officials confirmed a meeting between Bashir and Deby was planned on Thursday to try to revive a string of past peace accords which have failed to stop conflict on their common border, including Sudan's war-torn Darfur region.


Around 200,000 people have been killed since 2003 in Darfur's conflict, which pits Sudanese government forces and allied militia against local rebels who say the western region has been neglected and marginalised by the Khartoum government.

The conflict has spilled over into Chad and Central African Republic.

"The Chadian government hopes that the international community will this time take all the necessary measures to dissuade Sudan in this new attempt to destabilise Chad," the official Chadian statement said.

Wade, who has sought a mediation role in several African conflicts, has drafted a peace accord to be signed by Deby and Bashir in the hope it can help end the hostility.

N'Djamena and Khartoum have long traded accusations of supporting rebels hostile to each other.

Bashir, who accuses Deby of failing to respect previous deals, has questioned the usefulness of yet another accord .

Rebels from both Chad and Sudan's Darfur region, which many see as fighting a proxy war for the feuding presidents, have dismissed the planned pact, criticising it for failing to include them and saying it would not bring lasting peace.

Rejecting N'Djamena's latest accusation, Chadian rebel National Alliance representative Ali Ordjo Hemchi said President Deby was trying to "mix things up". "Saying the columns came from Sudan is a way of saying we depend on Sudan which isn't true. We're inside Chadian territory," he told Reuters.

Alex de Waal, an analyst on Sudan and Chad, said he did not believe either Deby or Bashir were interested in signing a serious peace deal. "If they do, it'll be purely for tactical reasons, to gain credit with the world community," he said.

Chad rebels 'cross from Sudan'

Heavily-armed rebels have entered the east of the country from Sudan, Chad's government is saying.

An announcement on national radio reported that "mercenaries crossed the border in the area of Moudeina", north of the border town of Ade.

A rebel attempt to overthrow President Idriss Deby's government was thwarted last month.

Mr Deby is due to sign a non-aggression pact in the next few hours with President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan.

There is no independent confirmation of the incursion, but it was reportedly denied by the leader of the main Chadian rebel alliance, Mahamat Nouri.

According to the AFP news agency, General Nouri accused Chad's government of looking for "an excuse" not to sign the peace agreement with Sudan.

"There is no fresh offensive", it reported him as saying. "Nothing in particular is going on."


Chad has accused Sudan of supporting Chadian rebels.

These charges are denied by Khartoum, which in turn accuses Chad of backing rebels in Sudan's Darfur region.

The two leaders were expected to meet on Wednesday, but President Bashir failed to turn up, blaming a headache after a long journey to get to the meeting in the Senegalese capital, Dakar.

They are due to sign a deal to stop supporting rebels in each other's territory, in an agreement overseen by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Previous agreements between the two countries have collapsed.

Coup attempt

In recent weeks Chad has taken steps to prevent attacks from rebels, including digging a deep trench around the capital, N'Djamena, and cutting down trees which could provide cover for attackers.

The government fought off last month's attempted coup in a fierce two-day battle.

Rebel columns in pick-up trucks rode into N'Djamena on 2 February, aiming to overthrow Mr Deby, who took shelter in his palace as street fighting raged.

The attack took place just before the deployment of a European peacekeeping force, to safeguard refugees from Darfur in eastern Chad and the Central African Republic.

A state of emergency was imposed to restore order after the coup attempt.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2008/03/13 11:50:10 GMT

Sudan, Chad postpone signing of new peace deal

DAKAR, March 13 (Xinhua) -- The signing of a new peace deal aiming to end years of hostility between Sudan and Chad by the two countries' presidents was postponed to Thursday, Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade said late Wednesday.

Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir did not make an appearance Wednesday as expected at the presidential palace in Dakar, where the peace deal was expected to be signed.

Wade, whose country is hosting the 11th Session of the Islamic Summit Conference, told reporters that Bashir did not show up due to headache as a result of long journey, and the signing of the peace deal was postponed to Thursday.

Bashir had been scheduled to have a meeting Wednesday night with his Chadian counterpart, Idriss Deby, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The relations between Sudan and Chad have been strained for years, with Sudan blaming Chad for supporting rebels in its Darfurregion, and Chad accusing Sudan of arming rebels in eastern Chad.

Bashir and Deby arrived in Darkar Wednesday to attend the two-day Islamic summit which opens Thursday.

Chad-Sudan hostility overshadows bid to revamp OIC

Thu 13 Mar 2008, 13:44 GMT
By Alistair Thomson and Lamine Ghanmi

DAKAR, March 13 (Reuters) - Leaders of the world's biggest Muslim body opened talks on Thursday to tackle difficult issues from poverty to hostility toward Islam, but those goals were quickly overshadowed by a confrontation between Chad and Sudan.

Heads of state of the 57-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) -- the second largest inter-governmental bloc after the United Nations -- convened in the Senegalese capital Dakar for a two-day meeting to overhaul its unwieldy charter.

The meeting, however, started on a sour note as Chad accused its neighbour and fellow OIC member Sudan of launching a rebel attack across its border.

"The Chadian government informs national and international opinion that Sudan on Wednesday March 12, 2008 launched several heavily armed columns against Chad," an official statement released in the Chadian capital N'Djamena said.

It was a major embarrassment for Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade who had billed the summit as the opportunity for a definitive peace deal between the two oil-producing states, after five previous agreements had collapsed.

A deal seemed unlikely after Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir failed to turn up to a meeting with Chadian leader Idriss Deby late on Wednesday, leaving U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, called as witness, waiting for nearly three hours.

Efforts to review the OIC's 40-article charter also appeared to have run aground after foreign ministers broke off their discussions without agreement on Wednesday, despite having extended their two days of talks by an extra day.

Long criticised as being ineffective and bureaucratic, OIC officials hope a revision of the charter can assign the group a more active role in fighting poverty and Islamic militancy.

"It's up to the heads of state to make the decision," Wade told the opening ceremony of the summit. "We are on the point of adopting the charter and we hope this adoption will come today."


The charter discussions include calls for more aid from the OIC's richest members, like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, to its poorest states, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa where radical groups like al Qaeda are attempting to gain a foothold.

A $10 billion fund for Islamic development set up by the organisation has so far received pledges for only $2.6 billion.

Another key change would allow the group to take decisions by a two-thirds majority, instead of requiring unanimity -- difficult to achieve in a large body with such cultural and political divisions, spanning Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Some members are pushing to make OIC membership conditional on a state having a "majority" Muslim population, but this has been resisted by mixed-religion nations like Uganda.

Pakistan was also insisting the new charter should make potential members resolve their conflicts with existing members before being allowed to adhere -- reflecting its long-running dispute with neighbour India over the Kashmir region.

With several prominent leaders not present -- from Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah to Libya's Muammar Gaddafi and Pakistan's Pervez Musharraf -- some delegates had called for a decision on the charter to be postponed until a Cairo summit in three years.

The meeting, however, was due to throw its weight behind the democratic government in Iraq, denouncing terrorist threats.

"The decision has been taken, a good decision for Iraq, the OIC will open an office in Baghdad," Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari told reporters.

(For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: ) (Writing by Daniel Flynn; Editing by Pascal Fletcher and Mary Gabriel)

SUDAN-CHAD: Another new peace agreement, this one to be signed at OIC summit

DAKAR, 11 March 2008 (IRIN) - Chad and Sudan have signed numerous peace agreements pledging to stop supporting rebels in the past and human right groups say they are not holding their breath that a new agreement brokered by Senegal’s President Abdoulaye Wade, which is scheduled to be signed at the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) summit in Dakar on 12 March, will be any different. But the groups are encouraged that the OIC is for the first time getting involved.

“For years we have been trying to get OIC countries to pressure Khartoum to stop the killing in Darfur but they didn’t want to speak out,” said Amir Osman, international advocacy director of the non-governmental organisation (NGO) Save Darfur, which, together with the Senegalese-based human rights NGO RADDHO (Rencontre Africaine pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme), organised a roundtable on Darfur ahead of the 12-16 March OIC meeting.

“We have managed to get the UN, the African Union and even the Arab League involved but we think the OIC could have an enormous influence,” he told IRIN on 10 March.

Osman said that getting the OIC involved is seen as important because it includes more countries than the Arab League, another grouping of Islamic countries. One country in the OIC that is not in the Arab League is Malaysia which has major oil interests in Sudan, although a diplomatic source in Chad told IRIN that Malaysia is likely to get involved to support Sudan and that could make Chad less likely to respect any agreement.

Another non-Arab OIC country is Senegal which will assume the OIC presidency after the summit. “Senegal is seen as more neutral than Libya and Saudi Arabia [which brokered previous agreements between Sudan and Chad],” Osman said.

He and another NGO official IRIN spoke with said they are encouraged that the new agreement also comes with a plan by which to implement it, although they said they had not as yet seen any of the documents.

As with previous agreements, President Wade said last week in Paris that the two sides would agree to “stop supporting each other's opposition on their territory”. Chadian President Idriss Deby and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir are accused of supporting insurgents bent on overthrowing each other’s government, though both leaders deny it.

The Sudanese rebel group Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) is led by Khalil Ibrahim, who is a member of the Chadian President’s Zaghawa ethnic group. Chadian rebels said to be supported by Sudan took control of parts of Chad’s capital N’djamena for a couple of days in early February.

Recent fighting between Sudanese government forces and rebels allegedly supported by Chad in the Jebel Moun area of West Darfur, Sudan, has left many civilians dead and wounded and forced tens of thousands to flee their homes.

This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the Pan-African News Wire

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