Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Hanging on in Chad
France said Tuesday it was prepared to intervene to defend Chad's president, Idriss Deby, who is under siege by rebel forces that have advanced to the central African nation's capital. France has more than 1,000 troops stationed in its former colony. Rebels fought in the streets of N'Djamena, the capital, for the past few days before pulling back and regrouping just outside the city. The rebels, led by Mahamat Nouri, head of the UFDD faction, are trying to topple Deby, who they accuse of being corrupt and dictatorial. "Our biggest handicap is the French army, not Idriss Deby," Nouri said Tuedsay, according to the Reuters international news agency. "Without France, we are ready to chase Deby away today." French President Nicolas Sarkozy got the backing of the U.N. Security Council on Monday, and said France would "do its duty" to defend Chad's government. Chad accuses neighboring Sudan of supporting the rebel offensive, but Sudan accuses Chad of backing rebels in its troubled Darfur region. The U.S. State Department has called on the rebels to withdraw.