Home | News    Tuesday 27 December 2005

Deby lobbies AU to condemn Sudan’s "aggression"

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Dec 27, 2005 (ABUJA) — Chadian President Idriss Deby lobbied the African Union on Tuesday to condemn neighbour Sudan for what he says is Khartoum’s support for rebels seeking to overthrow him.

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Deby accuses Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of trying to destabilise the region and visited Nigerian President and AU chairman Olusegun Obasanjo to press his charges that Sudan is threatening his country.

Chad says the Sudanese government organized and directed two attacks by Chadian rebels against its eastern border town of Adre on Dec. 18, which were repulsed after heavy fighting. It has declared a "state of belligerence" between itself and Sudan.

Without directly addressing the accusations, Sudan has insisted it is not seeking a conflict with its neighbour.

"I came to complain to the current AU chairman about the continued Sudanese aggression towards Chad," Deby told reporters after meeting Obasanjo at his private farm in Ogun state.

Deby repeated his government’s objections to Sudan hosting a summit of AU heads of state on Jan. 23-24.

"An aggressive neighbour like Sudan is not capable of hosting the next AU summit, not to mention being the next chairman," Deby said, speaking through an interpreter.

After each AU summit, the host nation traditionally assumes the rotating chair. But Deby said he would propose that Obasanjo should stay on instead of handing over to Sudan’s al-Bashir.

"CATASTROPHIC"

There was no immediate public comment from Obasanjo but in nearby Ivory Coast Alpha Oumar Konare, chairman of the African Union Commission, or secretariat, expressed concern.

"We already have a very difficult situation in Darfur. If today we must add complications between Chad and Sudan it will be a catastrophe," said Konare, a former president of Mali.

The AU is already involved in efforts to bring peace to Sudan’s western Darfur region where tens of thousands of people have been killed in fighting between Sudanese government forces and militias and Sudanese rebels since early 2003.

Chad says the Dec. 18 assault against Adre came from Darfur and its forces repulsed attackers, killing about 300 of them.

But Chad’s rebel Rally for Democracy and Liberty says it only lost nine men and killed more than 70 government troops.

Late on Monday, Deby said he feared Sudan may be preparing a fresh attack against Chad which could also destabilise other neighbouring states.

"One can’t rule out Khartoum making another repeat attack against Chad," Deby told reporters after meeting the president of Central African Republic, Francois Bozize, in N’Djamena.

Deby, who says Khartoum shelters RDL rebels who have vowed to topple him, said Sudan’s government had sent a 50-vehicle motorised military column towards the southern Sudanese border.

Without offering details, he said this could destabilise Central African Republic, which lies southwest of Sudan.

Bozize said he had spoken to al-Bashir about the tensions with Chad. "Anything that happens in Chad or affects it has repercussions for Central African Republic," he told reporters.

Separately on Tuesday, the main rebel group in Darfur accused Sudan of provoking the escalation of tension with Chad, saying Khartoum had failed to control the Darfur situation and decided to export the crisis to another country.

"This matter calls for international intervention to protect human rights in Darfur," Sudan’s Liberation Movement said in a statement.

(Reuters)

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