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Chadians Concerned Over Growing Tensions With Sudan


Chad's president has petitioned the African Union to condemn, what he called, Sudan's attempts to destabilize his country. Talk of an impending war with Sudan has raised fears among residents of the Chadian capital, Ndjamena.

Chadian President Idriss Deby met with African Union Chairman and Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo Tuesday to formally complain about what Chad is calling Sudan's aggression.

Chad's government has accused Sudan of backing two rebel groups along its eastern border. It says Khartoum supported a rebel attack on the border town of Adre.

Khartoum has denied any involvement in the Adre attack.

Earlier this month, Chad called upon its people to resist what it dubbed Sudanese aggression, saying it was in a state of belligerence with its neighbor to the east. But in the capital, Ndjamena, the mounting tension has sparked mixed reactions.

Journalist Nadgikino Benoudgita says he is worried by how his government is dealing with the situation.

This matter must be handled with a great deal of intelligence, he says. This is a serious situation, and we are now afraid that things could get even worse if the government keeps moving in the direction in which they are heading, he says.

Others in Njamena, like student Francois Djekomre, see the matter with Sudan as little more than a war of words.

We will not end up in a war with them, Mr. Djekomre says. Even before the rebellion, we knew more or less that both sides, Chad and Sudan, were supporting rebellions, he says.

Whether or not Khartoum is, indeed, backing the rebels is still far from clear, says an analyst with the London-based Global Insight, Chris Melville. He says President Deby may simply be pressuring Sudan to fully back Chad against the rebels.

"Well, I think about the allegations of Sudanese involvement, that level of involvement is quite difficult to establish," said Mr. Melville. "It is possible that Deby is accusing Sudan to orchestrate a definitive show of support from Khartoum, for his government in Ndjamena."

President Deby has, in the past, guarded close relations with Sudan. In 1990, Mr. Deby, then a rebel general, launched his successful bid to topple former President Hisene Habre from Sudanese territory.

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