Fri, Feb 29, 2008 - Page 6 News List

Chad announces probe of coup

MISSING Chadian President Idriss Deby has been under pressure from France to account for two opposition leaders who human rights groups say were abducted

AFP , NDJAMENA

Under pressure from France, Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno announced on Wednesday an "international probe" into an attempted coup against him earlier this month during which three opposition leaders went missing.

"There will be an international probe, which will shed light on the range of things that have happened," Deby told a news conference after talks with French President Nicholas Sarkozy.

Deby has been under pressure from France to account for the missing opposition leaders, who human rights groups say were abducted by the Chadian government during a rebel attack on the capital earlier this month.

One has been found and placed under house arrest; the fate of the other two remains unknown.

Sarkozy, an ally of Deby, stopped off in Ndjamena on Wednesday on his way to South Africa, where he was to spend two days.

"France wants the truth and I will not cede on this point. It's not because the Chadian government is legitimate that it can do whatever it wants," he said.

He said the probe should shed light "on what happened to the two opposition leaders [Ngarlejy] Yorongar and Ibni Oumar Mahamat Saleh."

The inquiry is to be be led by National Assembly leader and ruling party member Nassour Ouaidou, Deby said.

Earlier in Paris, Sarkozy had told representatives from six rights groups that he would ask Deby to set up an independent inquiry into the disappearance of Yorongar and Ibni, his spokesman David Martinon said.

Chadian Foreign Minister Ahmad Allam-Mi said in New York on Tuesday that Yorongar was hiding in Ndjamena but there was no word on Ibni, the spokesman of Chad's main opposition coalition.

Aides to Yorongar however denied the information and said Yorongar was still missing.

Aides to both Yorongar and Ibni have charged that the two men disappeared after being arrested as rebel troops besieged the capital on Feb. 3.

During his comments to journalists on Wednesday, Deby claimed 400 civilians were "missing or dead" following the attempted coup mounted by rebels against his government earlier this month.

"Chad was attacked ... and as a consequence ... 400 civilians are missing or dead, among whom there are leaders of political parties," he told reporters.

Until now, the Chadian Red Cross had estimated the fighting had left at least 160 dead.

Three Chadian rebel forces, accused by Deby of being mercenaries backed by neighbor and foe Sudan, formed an alliance in mid-December to topple the regime.

The rebel groups, which fought all the way to the center of the capital and surrounded the presidential palace on Feb. 3 before being repulsed by government forces, acknowledge Sudanese support.

The government was initially silent after its three political opponents vanished in Ndjamena, then announced inquiries, and on Feb. 14 said it had found one of them, Lol Mahamat Choua, in police custody.

Lol, a former head of state, is now under house arrest.

This story has been viewed 2337 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top