Home | News    Wednesday 2 November 2005

Chad’s Deby forms new elite security force

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Nov 1, 2005 (N’DJAMENA) — Chad’s ruler Idriss Deby has created a new elite security force charged with ensuring his safety days after dissolving his Republican Guard, highlighting fears of renewed instability in the central African country.

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Deby

Deby disbanded the Republican Guard at the weekend following a wave of army desertions. Analysts said the move appeared to be an effort to quickly instil order in the armed forces and ensure the survival of his administration.

In a presidential decree made public on Tuesday, Deby said he was forming a new 1,640-strong force, drawn from the army and police, known as the Principle Security Service for State Institutions (DGSSIE).

The unit’s mission was to "assure the security of the president and senior state authorities", the decree said. A senior military source said none of the recruits in the new force were members of Deby’s old guard.

Scores of soldiers fled their barracks in the dusty capital N’Djamena last month, regrouping in the volatile east of the country under the name the Platform for Change, National Unity and Democracy, whose French acronym is "SCUD".

The dissident soldiers, who have said they number around 600 men, are demanding Deby step down and that he free political prisoners held in the former French colony.

Neighbouring Sudan said it was concerned by the developments in Africa’s newest oil producer and was watching the situation.

Chad’s government, which initially said only 40 men had deserted, later said more than 80 had left their posts but that some had subsequently given themselves up.

SUDAN CONCERNED

Senior Chadian army officials went to the eastern town of Hadjer Hadid, where the group initially sought refuge, just over a week ago but negotiations failed, with the deserters demanding to meet with a political, not military, delegation.

Political sources in N’Djamena said the government was not considering sending a delegation for now.

Chad last week asked Sudan to disarm a group of the deserters, whom it said fled to Sudan’s Darfur region after Chadian troops laid siege to their hideout in Hadjer Hadid.

Sudanese Foreign Minister Lam Akol said Sudan was concerned and monitoring the situation in Chad. He said Khartoum also had information that the deserters had crossed the border.

"We are not going to allow any armed people to stage war on their countries from our borders," he said, adding the deserters would be disarmed and then treated as refugees if found.

Relations between Chad and Sudan have been strained by a 2-1/2 year conflict in Darfur, which sent hundreds of thousands of refugees pouring into already impoverished eastern Chad.

Deby, himself a former army chief who seized power in 1990, is from the Zaghawa tribe, which straddles the Sudan-Chad border. Many of the Darfur rebels fighting the Sudanese government are also Zaghawa.

Deby has been credited with bringing a measure of stability to Chad but has long had a tense relationship with his military.

He accused soldiers who attempted a short-lived mutiny in May 2004 of planning to assassinate him because they were angry at a crackdown on corruption in the armed forces.

(Reuters)

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