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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Wednesday 19 May 2004

CHAD: Army mutineers surrender - government

NDJAMENA, 19 May 2004 (IRIN) - A group of rebel soldiers who staged an abortive mutiny at the weekend have finally surrendered following two days of negotiations at a barracks on the outskirts of the capital N'djamena where they had barricaded themselves in, the government said on Wednesday.

Acting defence minister Emmannuel Nadingar told reporters that a group of about 80 mutineers had surrendered their weapons on Tuesday night and had been taken to the Camp des Martyres military base opposite the presidential palace.

"The presidency of the republic informs the national and international community that the situation is totally under control," the office of President Idriss Deby said in a statement read out on national radio a few hours later.

However, two diplomatic sources told IRIN that the government had not yet come to terms with other rebel military units outside the capital and that negotiations with them were still under way on Wednesday afternoon.

One of the sources said the problem was that these mutineers had so far refused to accept Deby's offer of a sum of money in return for laying down their arms.

The presidential statement read on national radio expressed the president's gratitude for the support he had received from several African and European leaders who phoned him following the aborted mutiny. These included President Jacques Chirac of France, the former colonial power in Chad.

The identity of the mutineers and their motives remained unclear, although government officials have said their uprising was in protest at unpaid salaries.

However, many diplomats and local political analysts said they suspected the army rebels had a deeper political motive. They said they believed that those leading the rebellion belonged to the same powerful Zagawa ethnic group as Deby and were unhappy with the president's performance in government.

In particular they highlighted Deby's failure to back wholeheartedly the rebellion in Sudan's western Darfur region, in which the section of the Zagawa tribe living in Sudan is heavily involved, and Deby's plans to change the constitution to allow him to serve a third five-year term as head of state.

"It is clear that it is a purely internal Zagawa matter, and that the mutiny instigators belong to Deby's close circle," a senior UN official told IRIN.

Chadian political analysts said Daoussa Deby, the president's elder half-brother, whose mother is a Sudanese Zagawa, was thought to be one senior figure connected to the mutineers.

The names of two other influential Zagawas; Tom Erdimi, who deals with Chad's recently developed oil industry on behalf of Deby, and his younger brother Timan Erdimi, the former head of Deby's private office, have also been widely mentioned as suspected backers of the uprising.

Meanwhile, the situation in Ndjamena, a city of wide sandy avenues lined with low Arab-style buildings, returned to normal on Wednesday.

"The situation in Ndjamena is very calm now," one resident told IRIN in Dakar by telephone. "Road blocks have been removed and there are no more policemen than usual in the streets", she added.

However, both mobile phone networks in the city were closed down on Tuesday evening and remained out of action throughout Wednesday. No explanation was given for the move.


This material comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts should include attribution to the original sources. All materials copyright © UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2004

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