Chad arrests returning former rebels

2010-11-10 18:07

N’Djamena – Four senior former Chadian rebels have been arrested on their return to the capital, the government and rebels said, a move that could dissuade other former fighters from laying down arms after years of fighting.

Chad's government and rebels have signed a string of Libyan-brokered deals to end rebellion in the oil-producer's east. But it took the healing of relations between Chad and neighbouring Sudan, which fought a proxy war through each other's rebels, to quell a 5-year rebellion this year.

"These officials were convicted in absentia by Chad's justice system for providing the enemy with intelligence, attacking the country and the destruction of public property," government spokesperson Pahimi Deubet Kazeubet said.

"The prosecutor launched the international arrest warrants for them and they were arrested," he added late on Tuesday.

Those arrested included General Taher Guinassou, a former security advisor to Chad's President Idriss Deby, who went on to become vice president of the UFDD rebels, and Tahir Wodji, who was a senior commander in the UFDD and a broader rebel alliance.

A Paris-based spokesperson for the UFDD rebels issued a statement condemning the arrests and urged Chadians "to continue the struggle and passive resistance" against Deby.

Analysts say that elections this year in Sudan followed by a referendum on partition for its south next year, coupled with polls in Chad in 2011 meant both countries had a common interest in ending fighting which neither side appeared to be winning.

Since the warming of relations, which saw each nation cut support for the rebels they had previously hosted, a number of other Chadian rebel leaders have negotiated a return to the capital, which was last heavily attacked in 2008.

Some of the rebel leaders have been given amnesties and returned to Deby's coalition or taken up jobs in government. Hundreds of fighters have left the bush but there are still hundreds more in the lawless east, where lines are blurred between rebellion and banditry.