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Fractious Chad Rebels Dismiss Deby Meeting

Chad rebels are dismissing an effort by President Idriss Deby to reach out to one of the many rebel movements operating near the border with Sudan. VOA's Nico Colombant reports from our regional bureau in Dakar that there has been a recent lull in rebel operations, but intercommunal violence is being reported again.

A Dakar-based Chadian rebel spokesman says Mahamat Nour, who met Sunday with Mr. Deby in eastern Chad, is already being discounted by other rebels.

Makaila Nguebla says Nour, a former Chadian army captain, was a bad leader, with no vision and dwindling support.

Chadian forces rebuffed Nour's fighters in April after they made it all the way to the capital Ndjamena. Since then, rebels have split into many movements, sometimes even firing at each other.

The rebels have adopted a strategy of briefly occupying different towns, before retreating after fighting government soldiers.

The Dakar-based rebel spokesman says Nour should watch out before making any deals with President Deby.

He says any serious negotiation should involve officials from the United Nations and the African Union.

Government officials have said negotiations with Nour are ongoing. They have also said other rebel movements were crushed during recent fighting in the east.

But Nguebla who keeps constant contact with rebel commanders says they organized what he calls a tactical retreat.

He says they are in an area near Biltine, a town which has been the scene of heavy fighting.

During the past few days, there were also reports of what Chad's government calls janjaweed-style attacks near a refugee camp for civilians from Sudan's Darfur province.

Janjaweed are Sudan-backed, Arab-dominated militias accused of committing atrocities against black African civilians in the Darfur conflict.

Chad's government alleges similar attacks inside Chadian territory killed hundreds in November. It accuses Sudan of backing all rebel movements in Chad and trying to export the Darfur conflict across borders.

Sudan denies the charges, while accusing Chad of backing and supporting Darfurian rebels.

London-based analyst Adrien Feniou for the Global Insight group says the link between Chad's rebels and janjaweed movements is possible, even if confusing.

"It seems that there could be coordination between these intercommunal attacks and the rebel attacks, so when the rebels are quiet these janjaweed sort of appear out of the blue," Feniou said. "I am not sure where they come from, who they represent, and why they are attacking who they are attacking."

The violence has led Chad's government to impose a state of emergency until at least May 2007, limit freedom of movement and association, while also increasing censorship of media.

President Deby came to power as a rebel in 1990, and has since won elections widely viewed as rigged.