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Chad accepts international probe of post-coup actions

Chad accepts international probe of post-coup actions

Chad's president said Wednesday that he will accept an international investigation into allegations of government abuse of power following a coup attempt earlier this month.
The statement by President Idriss Deby came after he met with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who made a brief stop in the embattled country that his administration helped deliver from a rebel attack on the capital.
"We have made a number of decisions, among them to put together an international investigation _ an investigation that will throw light on everything that happened in N'Djamena during this period," Deby said after his meeting with Sarkozy.
The French president's office had said before the trip that a major priority was persuading Deby to accept an international investigation into an alleged crackdown on political dissidents. Rights groups have charged that a state of emergency declared Feb. 14 has provided cover for the government to terrorize peaceful political opponents.
The less than four-hour trip comes at a pivotal moment for the arid, oil-rich African country, following closely on the attempt to oust Deby and as the European Union launches an operation in the east to protect refugees who fled Sudan's Darfur region.
France is playing a key role in a planned 3,700-strong peacekeeping force, known as EUFOR, to protect refugees from Darfur and others caught up in the turmoil along Sudan's borders with Chad and the Central African Republic.
Chad accuses Sudan of backing Chadian rebels to destabilize the country. Sarkozy said that France "is available in the coming days to favor" mediation between the two neighbors. Others would play a role, such as representatives of Libya and Senegal, European Commissioner Louis Michel and Abdou Diouf, former Senegalese president who heads the Organization of Francophone Countries.
Sarkozy _ stopping in Chad on his way to South Africa _ had said he wanted a "credible" international commission into the whereabouts of two political opponents who have been missing since the coup attempt earlier this month, presidential spokesman David Martinon said Tuesday in Paris.
"It is not because it has a legitimate government that (Chad) can do whatever it wants," Sarkozy said later. "I won't cede on this point. France wants the truth."
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner was to meet with opposition figures Wednesday night.
Chad has been beset by low-level insurgencies for nearly a decade. In this month's attack, rebels besieged the capital for three days before being beaten back.
Supporters of two opposition leaders _ Ngarlejy Yorongar and Ibni Oumar Mohamat Saleh _ have been missing for weeks since then, and supporters claim they were arrested by Chadian forces. The government has confirmed that it arrested former Chadian President Lol Mahamat Choua as an "enemy combatant." Choua had been held in a military prison, but was recently transferred to house arrest.
"The friendship between our two countries can grow only under the condition that the democratic process restarts and accelerates," France's Martinon said Tuesday.
Sarkozy was accompanied by his new wife, Carla Bruni. She took an active role on her first state visit as first lady, meeting with the wife of Saleh, one of the opposition figures who disappeared.
Sarkozy said later that he got an agreement from Deby to meet Thursday with Saleh's wife, with the French foreign minister present.
Among others joining Sarkozy on the visit were France's ministers for foreign affairs and defense, along with the E.U. commissioner for humanitarian affairs.
During his visit, Sarkozy said he also brought up _ "for five minutes" _ a possible pardon for six French citizens convicted here Dec. 26 for their role in an attempt by an aid agency to spirit 103 Chadian children to Europe, alleging they were Darfur refugees.
Sarkozy said he told Deby "that this was a concern and it was up to him to decide in total freedom."
The six are serving their prison terms in France. However, Deby had suggested Feb. 7 that he might pardon them.
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Associated Press writer Danzoumbe Padire contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-04-13 07:34 GMT+08:00