INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Chad: Fighting Breaks Out On Border

Published: Thu 29 Nov 2007 05:34 PM
VZCZCXRO9397
RR RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHNJ #0916 3331734
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 291734Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY NDJAMENA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5924
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUEHGI/AMEMBASSY BANGUI 1445
RUEHYD/AMEMBASSY YAOUNDE 1627
UNCLAS NDJAMENA 000916
SIPDIS
SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
LONDON AND PARIS FOR AFRICA WATCHERS
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM PREF CD SU
SUBJECT: CHAD: FIGHTING BREAKS OUT ON BORDER
REF: NDJAMENA 877
1. (SBU) Summary. Chadian rebels have taken up arms again,
almost one year to the day that they seized and held Chad's
eastern town of Abeche for 24 hours. Rebel groups UFDD and
RFC claim that the Libyan-brokered peace agreement is not
being honored; the Government of Chad points the finger at
Sudan's meddling. Casualties from the clashes are high and
the President is reported to be at the front directing the
battle. End summary.
2. (SBU) Rebel groups led by former Defense Minister Mahamat
Nouri and Timan Erdimi have taken up arms again. The last
week has seen three clashes between the rebel groups UFDD and
RFC and the Chadian army (french acronym ANT). From November
24-25 an attack took place in Hadjer Hadid, about 75
kilometers from Abeche and in the vicinity of a cluster of
Darfur refugee camps. On November 27-28 the conflict moved
north near Am Zoer. As of November 29, a clash is taking
place 70 kilometers from the town of Guereda. President Deby
is believed to be at the front directing the battle. One of
his nephews was killed in the first battle, which produced
large casualties on both sides. Eyewitnesses reported that
over 200 Chadian casualties were taken to hospitals in Abeche
and N'Djamena. Battlefield deaths are harder to ascertain
given the Muslim custom of burying the dead within 24 hours.
Reporters invited by the Government to view the battlefield
on November 26 saw evidence of heavy fighting and many
destroyed vehicles.
2. (SBU) On November 25, the Government Spokesman, Moussa
Doumgour, blamed the rebel groups for having unilaterally
broken the peace agreement signed October 25 in Libya
(reftel). The Government of Chad (GOC) also blamed Sudan
(which according to the terms of the agreement was to have
maintained the rebels on its territory until their
disarmament) for having allowed the rebels to renew the
hostilities. On November 28 Foreign Minister Allam-mi
announced that they had evidence that Sudan was responsible
for arming and equipping the rebels. For their part, the
rebels have stated that the peace agreement was not being
honored. They have also warned that any European force
deployed on Chadian territory must remain strictly neutral or
else it will be viewed as a "foreign occupying" force.
3. (SBU) The UN has restricted non-essential travel but has
not evacuated any staff out of Abeche or the region.
Humanitarian flights are continuing, but road travel between
Abeche and Farchana has been restricted. Staff in Farchana
are currently under lock-down until it is clear that the area
is safe. Post canceled CODEL Meek's planned November 28
visit to Gaga camp (situated between Abeche and Farchana).
COMMENT:
4. (SBU) It is hard to assess how much impact the clashes
will have on the stability of the regime. There is
speculation that President Deby is at the front to ensure
that this is indeed the rebel's last stand and to oversee the
pulverization of the rebel forces. He stated at the signing
of the Sirte agreement that he would go to war with an
country backing rebels against his regime. Hot pursuit into
Sudan is certainly likely; further steps remain to be seen.
TAMLYN
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