Chad has accused Sudan of providing backing for a 3,000-strong rebel force operating on the border between the two countries, and in retaliation is suspending its mediation in the Darfur conflict.
“We have decided to suspend our mediation because it is difficult to help a country when it is maintaining a rebellion on one’s territory,” Ahmat Allami, the Chad mediator in the Darfur crisis in western Sudan, told IRIN on Monday.
N’Djamena in a statement on Friday accused Khartoum of recruiting Chadian nationals into Arab militias which are being trained just 25 km across the border in the Maktiar region near the Sudanese city of El Geneina.
A two-year conflict between Sudanese government troops allegedly allied to militias and non-Arab rebels in Sudan’s western Darfur has left at least 180,000 people dead in Darfur and sent 200,000 refugees streaming into Chad.
For the past year Chad, whose eastern region has a similar ethnic make-up to western Sudan, has acted as a mediator in the crisis between Khartoum and Darfur rebels fighting to end what they have called marginalisation and discrimination by the state.
Allami, a personal advisor to President Idriss Deby, last June accused Sudan’s pro-government Janjawid militia of reviving a former Chadian rebel movement, the National Front for the Renewal of Chad, which stopped fighting the government in 2002.
“Sudan always said they would stop a hostile rebellion acting inside the country,” Allami said. “But the latest news we have is that the (rebel) numbers keep on growing.”
He said Chad now suspected Khartoum of working to actively destabilise the country.
“We believe the Sudanese special services are using the Chadian rebels to fight the Sudanese rebels while offering them the possibility of destabilising Chad,” Allami told IRIN.
In a statement on Friday, the Sudanese embassy in Chad denied the allegations saying the country “has no interest in destabilising a friendly country.”
But a western diplomat said Khartoum had always suspected Deby of favouring the non-Arab rebels of Darfur.
The crisis comes as Chad prepares for a June 6 referendum to change the constitution to allow 52-year-old Deby to seek a third term as president in elections scheduled for 2006. Deby won elections in 1995 and again in 2001.
Meanwhile humanitarian workers on the border said tension was rising in the area.
“Reinforcements have been sent to eastern Chad,” said one aid worker. “We do not know what is happening but the situation doesn’t appear to be normal.”
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions