Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Rebel Uprising in Chad at Tentative Ceasefire

A ceasefire, in addition to military force has brought a tentative end to rebel fighting in Chad, which has over the last few days caused more than 20,000 people to flee their homes. Rebels attacked the capital city of N’Djamena on Saturday in an effort to overthrow President Idriss Deby and his government, resulting in thousands of refugees fleeing to neighboring Cameroon.

Chad is currently embroiled in a rebel uprising that dates back to 2005, when rebels formed the United Front for Democratic Change (FUC) to overthrow Chadian president Idriss Deby. The FUC in alliance with other smaller rebel groups oppose Deby, who changed the country’s constitution so he could run for an unprecedented third term. Deby also stands accused of using Chad’s oil profits for his own personal gain. Idriss Deby came to power in a 1990 coup, in which he overthrew former warlord and ally, Hissene Habre. Just 8 years earlier Deby had aided Habre in overthrowing President Goukouni Oueddei .

The government of Chad accuses Sudan of supporting the rebels in an effort to deflect attention from its current conflict in Darfur and to keep peacekeepers at bay. Sudan denies the accusations and accuses Chad of supporting the conflict in Darfur. Chadian President Deby is of the same ethnic group as the Darfur rebels and has offered support to the rebels in Darfur since the uprising began. More than 200,000 have died in the conflict in Sudan.

On yesterday, The UN Security council called on all member-states to support Deby and his government. The UN statement allows France to now take military action against the rebels in Chad if the violence continues, which is threatening the evacuation and protection of both Chadian and Sudanese refugees. Rebel leaders argue that France has been involved all along and have provided helicopters and tanks as well as a military presence in Chad. The rebels have stated that the uprising will not end until Deby is removed from office.

-Tremaya Reynolds

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