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Analyst Says Sudan Behind Rebel Advance in Chad

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Chadian rebels and military sources report fierce fighting today less than 100 kilometers from the capital, N'djamena. Meanwhile, the European Union has delayed the deployment of peacekeeping troops to Chad.  

Paul-Simon Handy is an analyst with the Institute of Security Studies in Pretoria, South Africa. He says the arrival of the EU troops may be important to the government.

“Actually,” he said, “the presence of the European force for President [Idriss] Deby’s regime’s stability is important, as long as the force is not entitled to enhance democratic government structures in Chad…. It is conceived as strictly humanitarian and not political, which in my opinion is a mistake, because…the humanitarian problems are a manifestation of deeper problems.” He says those include growing autocratic rule in Chad. He says a deployment of an international force would likely work against the rebels and prevent them from attacking.

Handy does not believe a change in government would bring about greater democratization, since he says the top rebel leaders were part of President Deby’s administration at one time and one is even related to him. Handy says the rebels are backed by Khartoum, which helped install him17 years ago. He says the two governments became estranged over the crisis in the western region of Darfur, where many from President Deby’s own tribe have been massacred.           

Handy comments on the potential geopolitical fall-out of a new government in Chad: “A regime change engineered and backed by Sudan,” he said, ”would have enormous consequences. [It] would in my own opinion worsen the situation in Darfur.”

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