Chad and UN at odds over force
Ndjamena - Negotiations have stalled between Chad and a UN team on the future size of the UN peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (CAR) and Chad (Minurcat), a Chadian official said on Tuesday.
"We proposed to the UN to reduce the number of elements in Minurcat to 400, which is largely sufficient to guard installations and civilian personnel, but the UN wants to keep 1 000 men," said a diplomatic source who asked not to be named.
The source was speaking after talks between the head of the UN delegation Tunisian Youssef Mahmoud, who has been in Chad since March 22, and General Oki Dagache, special representative of Chad's president Idriss Deby Itno at the UN mission.
Deby's government, which wants the UN troops and police to withdraw rapidly, considers that Minurcat has served its purpose and has gone so far as to call it "a failure".
"The UN has given us a memo containing its proposals and Chadian experts are studying this memo, eventually to give their replies," the source told AFP.
Refugees and aid
Minurcat's mandate was renewed until May 15 by the UN Security Council this month to allow time for talks on the future of the force, which is tasked with protecting scores of thousands of displaced people and refugees and with facilitating aid work.
The diplomatic source said on Tuesday that Chad and the UN team had agreed on the "mission to be carried out by civilian personnel, notably the training of legal staff and the construction of infrastructure", but that there was no agreement on the number of troops set to stay.
The mission was created in 2007 to take over from a European force, EUFOR, that looked after Chadians and Central Africans displaced by insurgency in their own countries and refugees from Sudan's strife-torn Darfur region, across the eastern border of Chad and the north-eastern border of the CAR.
The UN and other organisations have expressed reservations at the idea of a possible withdrawal of the military component of Minurcat fearing for the safety of those displaced.
The force included about 2 510 troops, 260 police, and 975 civilian personnel, according to its UN website as of last December.