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Analysts Not Surprised by Chad's Refusal of UN Peacekeepers

01 March 2007

African analysts say they are not surprised Chad is rejecting the deployment of United Nations peacekeepers along its tense border region with Sudan and the Central African Republic. Chad's government said late Wednesday it would only accept a civil international force made up of police officers. VOA's Nico Colombant reports from our West and Central Africa bureau in Dakar.

International efforts to contain the violence from Sudan's Darfur province received a setback this week when Chad spelled out its position on a possible deployment of U.N. peacekeepers to the rebel-filled border region.

Rebels attacking Chadian forces are based in Sudan, while the main Darfurian rebels have their headquarters in Chad.

Deputy Foreign Minister Djidda Moussa Outman said for Chad it has never been a question of receiving any outside military force to help quell the violence, but rather gendarmes and police officers.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has recommended a force of up to 1,100 military personnel but acknowledged difficulties in the mission's acceptance.

The United Nations has also been unable to get Sudan to accept a peacekeeping force within the Darfur region itself.

Richard Barltrop, a consultant with the research group Oxford Analytica, says Chad's government, much like the Sudanese government, wants to fight its own military battles.

"The Chadian government might fear that they would be constrained in responding to the Chadian rebel groups," he said. "U.N. troops in eastern Sudan would possibly constrain the Chadian government from thumping the Chadian rebel groups there."

Barltrop says Chad's president, Idriss Deby, also does not want to appear weak within the context of Chadian politics.

"Domestic opposition would take advantage of the presence of U.N. forces for example to say 'look our national government is unable to maintain security in the country by itself. It is an incapable and incompetent government,'" he said.

Another analyst, Alex Vines, with the British-based Royal Institute of International Affairs, says he also was not surprised by Chad's refusal.

But he says the U.N. Security Council should still look at the police option seriously, given the flow of refugees back and forth between countries in the region.

"It is quite clear that there is ongoing concern for the 200,000 refugees that have sought refuge in eastern Chad," he said. "Some sort of force, independent witnesses of what is happening, will provide a degree of protection, so the Council may consider this."

Vines says it could be unprecedented for the United Nations to dispatch such a force, and explains what exactly gendarmes are.

"There will be some kind of discussion now over whether this approach may be a feasible way forward," he said. "Bear in mind, gendarmerie themselves, they are not an unarmed police force necessarily.

"The gendarme tradition means they have a semi-military role, if Chad accepts the gendarme sort of model, although I am not sure whether there is a precedence of this in the past from the Security Council," he added.

Discussions on the Ban Ki-moon report and the Chad statement are likely in the coming days at U.N. headquarters in New York.

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