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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Tchad : d’un coup de force à l’autre

by Jean Chatain

Blow Follows Blow in Chad

Translated Tuesday 19 February 2008, by Gene Zbikowski

N’Djamena, February 16. Idriss Déby has declared a state of emergency.

The president of Chad has declared a two-week state of emergency, with a curfew, media censorship and limits on moving about in the country. This decision has aroused all the more concern in Chad as it was preceded by the arbitrary arrest of members of the democratic opposition. Among the personalities who were thus kidnapped, it was being said yesterday that Lol Mahamat Chouas, the man who has come to symbolize the August 13, 2007 agreement on a democratic process and the rule of law (an agreement concluded under the aegis of the European Union and with the approval of Paris and Washington), kidnapped by a commando of the Presidential Guard on February 3, had been “found alive,” in the words of Interior Minister Ahmat Mahamat Bachir. “I can’t give you any more details for the moment,” he added, hinting in the face of all the eyewitness statements that the kidnappers were rebels.

“We contacted the French embassy ten minutes after the kidnapping. As of today, we have not received any answer, nor any visit on their part to obtain information,” the spokesman for Lol Mahamat Choua’s party, the Union for Democracy and Progress (RDP), repeated. The French minister for foreign affairs limited himself to indicating that “the French ambassador in N’Djamena (had) obtained from the Chad authorities a commitment that he could meet Mr. Lol Mahamat Choua” and that he had been able to verify that Choua was being “held in a military prison.” This imprisonment apparently does not trouble French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner and French defense minister Hervé Morin in the least.

Nor are they troubled by the disappearance of two other opposition leaders, Ibn Oumar Mahamat Saleh and Ngarlejy Yorongar. “For over ten days, (Yorongar) has been held in solitary confinement somewhere in Chad. Who can be unaware of the fact that he is in danger?” the Primo-Levy association stated indignantly, pointing out that Yorongar had been treated “on several occasions for the physical consequences of the violence done to him.” In point of fact, torture has always been the rule in Idriss Déby’s jails.

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