Chad rebels 'fleeing', says defence minister

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Rebels in northern Chad are ready to observe a ceasefire and to discuss a political settlement after the battlefield death of President Idriss Deby. (Photo by Abdoulaye Adoum Mahamat/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Rebels in northern Chad are ready to observe a ceasefire and to discuss a political settlement after the battlefield death of President Idriss Deby. (Photo by Abdoulaye Adoum Mahamat/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
  • Defence Minister Brahim Daoud Yaya says Chad rebels have repelled after fighting along the border with Niger about 300 km north of the capital N'Djamena.
  • The President of Chad, Idriss Deby was killed as soldiers clashed with the rebels on 19 April.
  • A transitional government has since been appointed by a 14-member military junta.

Rebels who launched an offensive in northern Chad, sparking clashes that claimed the life of veteran president Idriss Deby Itno, are in flight, the country's new defence minister said on Thursday.

"The security forces are thoroughly sweeping the operational area. Most of the prisoners are in the hands of the gendarmerie (police) and are being well-treated. The enemy is fleeing," Defence Minister Brahim Daoud Yaya told a news conference.

"We are never going to dialogue with terrorists."

He was speaking after the first meeting of a transitional government appointed by a 14-member military junta, the Transitional Military Council (TMC), that took office after Deby's death on 19 April.

Opposition supporters, meanwhile, called for fresh anti-junta protests on Saturday.

Demonstrations on 29 April that were violently repressed by the authorities claimed six lives, according to the authorities, and nine according to a local grass-roots organisation, while more than 600 people were arrested.

ALSO READ | Chad's president Deby dies after fighting rebels, son to take over

The Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), a large armed group with a rear base in Libya, mounted an offensive on 11 April as the country was to hold presidential elections.

Deby, a former general who had been in power for 30 years, led the fighting against the insurgents.

According to the authorities, he died from combat injuries in the Kanem desert region, about 300 kilometres north of the capital N'Djamena, close to the border with Niger.

"Libya is the terrorists' stronghold," the minister said.

He added, however: "I cannot accuse Libya of supporting the terrorists, as there is no state in Libya."

Deby's death occurred on the same day that he was declared victor in the presidential results and that the army claimed to have killed 300 FACT rebels, according to official announcements.

Another 246 rebels have been captured and handed over to the judicial authorities, according to the authorities.

Fighting has been continuing in the area of Nokou, in the administrative region of North Kanem.

Last week, a Chadian military helicopter crashed there after what the army said was a breakdown, while FACT said it had downed the aircraft.

A junta took power immediately after Deby's shock death, headed by his 37-year-old son Mahamat, a four-star general, and parliament was suspended.

The military rulers have vowed to hold "free and democratic" elections following an 18-month transition period.

On Sunday, the junta unveiled a 40-member transitional government, the key posts of which have gone to members of the former president's MPS party.

According to a report on Thursday's first ministerial meeting, a copy of which was seen by AFP, Deby "instructed the government to urgently strengthen communal living, which has been seriously tested, to consolidate peace, ensure security and guarantee security."

He also called for the holding of an "inclusive national dialogue."


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