Chad govt bans Land Cruisers

Ndjamena - Chad's government on Tuesday banned the use of Land Cruiser pick-ups and reserved them "exclusively for military use," the ministry of public security said in a statement.

No reason was given for the ban, but such vehicles are frequently used by rebel forces opposed to the government of President Idriss Deby and active in eastern Chad.

"Any ownership of an all-terrain Land Cruiser pick-up is banned across the territory except those owned by the administration, by NGOs, by diplomats and by traditional chiefs," Public Security Minister Ahmat Mahamat Bashir.

"This decision stems from a choice made by the government to consider this type of truck as a vehicle reserved exclusively for military use and related purposes," the press statement said.

The owners of such pick-ups should "deliver them to the administrative authorities" so that an "ad hoc commission (can make) an evaluation of the worth of the vehicles and pay compensation to owners who have proved their rightful claim," the statement added.

Such vehicles are quite common in Chad and are often used by rebel groups when they make their offensives. The last clashes were in May and involved a force, the Popular Front for National Renaissance (PFNR), that operates inside the country.

The government has been working to resume talks with other groups that are based across the border in western Sudan, and Ndjamena has also improved its ties with Khartoum. Both sides have agreed not to back rebel groups.

People in Ndjamena gave a mixed response to the government's decision on Land Cruisers.

"Everybody knows that these vehicles are used by the security forces and the rebels. If the government expects by this means to stop rebellion and insecurity, it is wrong," said Jean Bebegue, the president of the Chadian Association to Support Prisoners.

For Honore Ngounlao, an agronomist, "the government should rather seize Toyota Land Cruisers without registration plates, which certain men in military uniform use for other means."

"This decision is arbitrary and unfair," said Didier Nouba, a teacher. "The people who made this vehicle did not say that it should be used exclusively by the military."

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