Home | News    Thursday 20 April 2006

Security Council likely to appeal to Chad, Sudan to self-restraint

April 19, 2006 (UNITED NATIONS) — The U.N. Security Council is likely to respond to the recent rebel attack on the capital of Chad with an appeal to the leaders of Chad and neighboring Sudan to stand by their February pledge not to destabilize each other’s country, France’s U.N. ambassador said Tuesday.

Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere said the council is also likely to stress in a statement being drafted by African members of the council that it is unacceptable in 21st century Africa for anyone to seize power by force.

"Things have changed," he said. "Making coups like 15 years ago or 20 years ago ... is not acceptable. ... Secondly, using the territory of one country to destabilize another country is something which is not acceptable."

Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who has called the attempted coup in Chad "very worrying," briefed the council late Tuesday on the latest developments and the recent attack. He urged the council to think about taking some measure, which is likely to be a presidential statement, Japan’s U.N. Ambassador Kenzo Oshima said.

At Tuesday’s closed-door briefing, diplomats said council ambassadors were told that 125 new vehicles transported well-armed rebel fighters in new uniforms 1,000 kilometers from the Sudan-Chad border to N’Djamena, the capital of this volatile, oil-producing nation in the center of Africa. Council members want to know who supplied the vehicles, weapons and uniforms, the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the meeting was closed.

De La Sabliere said the rebels came from the conflict-wracked Darfur region of neighboring Sudan.

The assault underscored concerns that the civil war in Darfur has undermined Chadian President Idriss Deby’s authority and destabilized the entire region. It also showed how little control Deby wields in the countryside, where rebels cruise the desert at will.

Deby blamed Sudan’s government for backing the rebels in Chad, where more than 200,000 refugees from Darfur have fled. He severed relations with Sudan and threatened to expel the refugees if the international community did not do more to stop the rebels from destabilizing his government before Chadian presidential election scheduled May 3 - though he later backed down on the expulsion threat.

Sudan denies the claim and accuses Chad of backing a different rebel group in Darfur.

De La Sabliere said both Annan and Salim Ahmed Salim, the African Union medaitor trying to get the parties in Darfur to agree to a peace deal, stressed Tuesday that the Darfur-Chad situation could destabilize the whole central African region, "so this is very dangerous."

"The discussion we had showed that the members of the council think that the African Union should be on the forefront," of trying to resolve the conflicts, he said.

What council members want, the French ambassador said, is for the Sudanese and Chadians to abide by the peace agreement they signed in Tripoli, Libya, on Feb. 8 in which they pledged to normalize diplomatic relations and deny refuge to each other’s rebel groups.

In the agreement, Deby and Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir pledged to work to prevent the presence of rebels on each other’s territory.

"So it should be a collective effort to calm down the situation and have the countries respecting what they have signed in Tripoli," de La Sabliere said.

Argentina’s U.N. Ambassador Cesar Mayoral said in addition to the situation in the region, the international community needs to address the problem of relief workers helping the refugees and what happens in the interior of Chad.

Chad, an arid, landlocked country about three times the size of California, has been wracked by violence for most of its history, with more than 30 years of civil war since independence from France in 1960 and different small-scale insurgencies since 1998.