Deby makes peace plea to rebels

2010-01-01 19:09

Ndjamena - Chad's President Idriss Deby Itno called on Friday on rebel forces in the troubled central African nation to lay down their weapons, saying constant conflict was hindering development.

"War is not the solution," the president said in his New Year address.

"Today, conditions are more than ripe for everyone to satisfy their political ambitions through the ballot box."

The landlocked nation is rich in natural resources but has been blighted by violence and instability.

In February last year, rebels swept across the whole of south Chad to Ndjamena in a week and were only defeated with French help.

But Deby, who took power in a 1990 military coup but has since been democratically elected, insisted on Friday that the country's rebel movements had no future and accused them of acting as "a brake on the country's development".

"Stop, stop, stop plunging Chadian families into mourning and destroying our country," he urged in his latest plea to anti-government forces.

Peace efforts with Sudan

He stressed there had been repeated efforts to end the fighting and help Chad go forward in harmony with its neighbours, in particular Sudan where several rebel groups have bases.

Sudan and Chad started a fresh bid last week to normalise relations.

Both sides agreed at high-level talks in Khartoum to meet again to take steps to stop cross-border rebel attacks from each side, according to Sudanese presidential adviser Ghaze Salaheddin.

Chad has accused Sudan of supporting rebels seeking to oust the government, while Khartoum has charged Ndjamena with backing ethnic minority rebels in the western Sudanese region of Darfur.

Improved ties between the two countries could also help to bring peace to war-torn Darfur, where about 300 000 people have died since ethnic rebels revolted in 2003, according to the United Nations.