Former Chadian rebels march towards border

Former Chadian rebels waiting to join the national army have left their eastern bases to make for the Sudanese border, their former chief told international French radio station RFI.

Mahamat Nour Abdelkerim — the former head of United Front for Democratic Change (FUC) who became a government minister last March following a 2006 peace accord with Ndjamena — told RFI late on Thursday that an ”unfortunate event” had taken place the previous night in the eastern town of Guereda.

”Some of the FUC elements have left the town. They are currently in Birak, about 60km south-east of the town of Guereda,” near the Sudanese border, he said.

”They are unhappy for several reasons … These are fairly complex problems, fairly serious. I understand them,” he said, before urging the former rebels to ”be patient until we find an amicable solution for them to come back”.

RFI reported that the men had left after the Chadian army had tried to disarm them forcibly.

Between 500 and 1 000 men had left Guereda, rebel sources said on Friday, without specifying whether the men remained in Chad.

Chad’s Communications Minister Moussa Doumgor merely said there was some ”local tension”.

”I don’t think that there is an underlying problem. It is possible that there are some tensions between the men,” he said. ”I don’t think Mahamat Nour’s men have launched a rebellion. He himself remains a member of government.”

The FUC still has about 7 000 armed men in eastern Chad who are set to be integrated into the national security forces, according to government sources.

Nour’s men were behind the most serious rebel offensive in Chad in recent years. In April 2006, they crossed the country from east to west in a matter of days before being turned back just outside the capital. — Sapa-AFP

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