Chad's Higher Judicial Council gave him the go-ahead on Friday to pardon six French aid workers jailed for eight years for abducting children, an official said. The six members of the Zoe's Ark charity were sentenced to eight years' hard labour by Chad last year for trying to kidnap 103 African children.
Chad extended a state of emergency by a further 15 days on Friday, saying it was needed to maintain state authority almost a month after a rebel attack on the capital, Ndjamena. The state of emergency gives the government wide search-and-arrest powers and also permits control of media reporting.
Chad's government is in total control of the country after beating off a rebel offensive, President Idriss Déby Itno said on Wednesday. Making his first public appearance since rebels attacked the capital, Ndjamena, on the weekend, Déby accused the president of neighbouring Sudan of backing the rebel offensive.
It is hoped that four more South Africans will be airlifted from Chad to Gabon on Tuesday, the Department of Foreign Affairs said. The four South Africans were already at the French military base in Chad's capital Ndjamena. Three other South Africans remained stranded and were still hoping to fly out of the country.
Thousands of civilians fled Chad's capital Ndjamena on Monday after rebel forces pulled back from a two-day assault, but the rebels said they would attack again to try to topple President Idriss Déby Itno, whose government said it had beaten off more than 2Â 000 insurgents.
Chad's army fought to hold off advancing rebels 100km from the capital, Ndjamena, on Friday as the renewed combat delayed the deployment of European peacekeepers to the Central African country. Up to 3 700 European Union troops were due to arrive in coming weeks on an urgent peacekeeping mission to eastern Chad.
Chadian rebels said on Friday that their forces had taken up positions around the capital, Ndjamena, and they called on President Idriss Déby Itno to negotiate a power-sharing deal or face an offensive on the city. Residents in the dusty capital on the banks of the Chari River said the atmosphere was tense.
Six French aid workers sentenced to hard labour in Chad for trying to kidnap 103 children flew out of the African nation on Friday bound for France where they are due to serve their sentences in jail. France invoked a 1976 judicial cooperation treaty with its former colony to obtain the quick transfer home of the six.