Rebels in Chad have declared war on the former colonial power France. Mahamat Hassane Boulmaye, spokesman for the Union of Forces for Democracy and Development (UFDD), said in a statement: “The UFDD considers itself to be in a state of belligerence against the French army or any other foreign forces on national territory.” He said the EU peacekeeping force to be stationed in Chad to help police neighboring Darfur is a “a hostile act,” adding: “We will view the European soldiers as enemies, whether they are French or Austrian.”
Paris has troops and aircraft stationed in Chad, and the UFDD said French warplanes had overflown rebel positions between the towns of Guereda and Adre on Nov. 29, amid clashes which have reportedly killed hundreds of people in recent days. “Providing diplomatic, strategic and logistical support to the tyrant Idriss Deby is an act of hostility and will be treated as such,” the UFDD said.
President Deby, in power since 1990, was re-elected last year in elections which were controversial but accepted by the international community. French President Nicholas Sarkozy said the rebel declaration will not affect the deployment of the EU force. “The operation will go ahead,” he said. “If we decided to send a European force to one side of the border and a mixed force on the other side it is because there are problems, conflicts, difficulties. If there were none we would not have decided to send soldiers.”
Around half the 3,500-strong force will be French, with Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden, among others, also contributing. (The Telegraph, AFP, Dec. 1)
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