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Chad: Politics and Government

Volume 474: debated on Wednesday 2 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment his Department has made of the (a) political and (b) security situation in Chad; and if he will make a statement. (196919)

The political and security situation in Chad remains unstable following rebel incursions into the capital, N’Djamena, on 2 February 2008. The UN estimated that roughly 30,000 people were forced to flee into neighbouring Cameroon during the fighting, though many Chadians have now returned to N’Djamena.

In the East, roughly 13,000 new refugees have crossed the border from Sudan. UN and humanitarian operations in Eastern Chad were curtailed during the fighting, but have largely returned to normal. EUFOR, the EU force in Eastern Chad and the Central African Republic, has now reached initial operating capability and will increase security around refugee and Internally Displaced Persons camps.

The Dakar Accord was signed by the Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno and the Sudanese President Omar Hassan Bashir in Senegal on 13 March 2008. It commits the two countries to reconciling their differences, normalising relations and contributing to stability in the region. The Government welcome the signing of this agreement.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions (a) he, (b) members of his Department and (c) UK representatives in (i) N'Djamena and (ii) Yaounde have had with (A) members and (B) representatives of the government of Chad on the (1) grounds for and (2) nature of the detention of former President Lol Mahamat Choua; and if he will make a statement. (197133)

The UK is represented in Chad through our high commission in Yaounde. We have not had any bilateral contact with members or representatives of the government of Chad on this issue. We are supporting EU efforts to investigate the circumstances surrounding the detention of Lol Mahamat Choua and the arrest of several other Chadian political opposition leaders. EU representatives have been in contact with Chadian opposition politicians.

The EU General Affairs and External Relations Council Conclusions of 18 February 2008 stated

“The Council expresses its deep concern over the arrest of members of the unarmed political opposition in Chad, including Mr. Choua. The Council calls on President Deby to show restraint and immediately release these detainees”.

We will continue to support EU initiatives encouraging an official Chadian Commission of Inquiry into this matter.