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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Le Tchad « enquête » sur les démocrates disparus

by Anne Roy

Chad “conducts an enquiry” on the democrats who have disappeared.

Translated Saturday 16 February 2008, by Gene Zbikowski

N’Djamena, February 15. Despite all the evidence, the minister of the Interior suggests that the government opponents have fallen into the hands of the rebels.

It is now thirteen days since the government opponents Lol Mahamat Choua, Ibni Oumar Mahamat Saleh and Ngarlejy Yorongar were kidnapped from their homes in N’Djamena, just when the army loyal to Idriss Déby had regained the upper hand in the most serious rebel attack in the history of Chad. It has been thirteen days since they were kidnapped by the Chad national army, according to the statements by their families and friends – statements which corroborate one another. The anguish felt by family and friends is not likely to be eased by the news that an enquiry is to be made, as was announced on Wednesday by Chad minister of the Interior Ahmat Mahamat Bashir, who went to the trouble of pointing out that the area in which the government opponents’ homes are located “was under the control of mercenaries” at the time that they were kidnapped, suggesting that they are now in rebel hands.

“It is a question of kidnapping by about fifteen soldiers of the presidential guard,” the spokesman for Lol Mahamat Choua’s political party stated yesterday. “He didn’t even have the time to put on his shoes, they mistreated him right up to the moment they got him to the car, and they then drove off to an unknown destination.”

It took a week for the French authorities, who proclaimed their backing for Idriss Déby’s government as soon as the fighting was over, to which they yesterday having supplied with munitions – it took a week for the French authorities to deign to demand that Déby liberate his opponents, those who represent the only hope for a peaceful alternative to the Déby regime.

“To keep his boastful promise that he would tear L’Arche de Zoé from the claws of ’negro justice’, Nicolas Sarkozy has in fact swapped the Déby’s pardoning of six French humanitarian criminals for the violent arrest of the four main leaders of the legal opposition in Chad – who signed the overall political accord to reinforce the democratic process, an accord initialed on August 14 under the auspices of the European Union,” CNRS researcher Jean-François Bayart wrote in a denunciatory opinion article published in Le Monde on Tuesday.

Since then Paris has belatedly adjusted its position and demanded that the Chad government furnish “precise information on the reasons why they were imprisoned, on the place where they are being held, and on the judicial procedures which the Chad authorities believe they can apply” – while hoping that it is not yet too late.

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