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Statement by State Secretary Janez Lenarčič on behalf of the EU Council regarding the situation in Chad

Dear Mr President, honourable Members of the Parliament,

As you know, the situation in Chad has become even graver in the recent weeks. In the beginning of February, Chad rebel groups arrived in the capital N'Djamena and occupied its larger section. After a couple of days, the rebels have been repelled by government forces from N'Djamena eastwards – to Chad's border with Sudan.

The attacks of rebel groups on the Chadian government early February have not only stirred up a simmering internal crisis, but also revealed its regional dimension. The rebels namely started from Darfur with essential support from the Sudanese side. Therefore, on discussing the situation in Chad, we have to take into account two inter-connected aspects, the first concerning the internal policy and the other the regional situation.

Thus, the Council, which condemned the rebel attacks on the Chadian government, appealed, on the one hand, for political dialogue between the government, opposition and the rebels, and on the other hand pointed out the urgency of establishing political dialogue between the Chadian and the Sudanese governments. We believe that both governments should be pressed to meet the obligations accepted under various agreements. The EU Council required both governments to immediately stop supporting the armed groups and supplying them, and to improve their mutual relations. 

As far as the internal political situation in Chad is concerned, a political solution to this conflict is the only way to country's peace and stability. The inclusive political process indicated by the agreement between the Chadian ruling party and the parties of the legal opposition of August 2007 should be taken forward. In this respect, the Union supports the African Union's efforts to achieve a peaceful solution to the conflict.

Thus, the EU joins the appeals of the African Union and the United Nations who have both been very clear in their condemnations of the rebel attacks.  We share with them the concerns related to the risks of further escalation of the conflict.

We are also worried because of the deterioration of the humanitarian situation. The increasing hostilities have namely amplified the humanitarian tragedy and added to the already huge number of refugees and displaced persons.

More than 160 people were wounded and about 1000 persons killed in the armed conflicts. Tens of thousands of refugees fled to the neighbouring Cameroun and Nigeria. As there are presently also over 250,000 refugees from the Sudanese region of Darfur in the eastern Chad, the humanitarian conditions are even graver and require the earliest possible deployment of the EUFOR Chad/CAR mission.

For the time being, the security situation following the fighting is improving and back to normal in N'Djamena and most of the country, except for the east. However, the 15-day state of emergency proclaimed on 15 February has been extended until mid-March. This is a source of concern on part of the EU, as the civil rights and media freedom have been limited in Chad.

The activities relating to the deployment of the EUFOR mission are being continued, after they were suspended. Operation Commander, General Nash, namely decided to suspend them following the rebel attacks in order to allow an assessment of the new political and security context.

The deployment was then resumed with no consequences for the overall timeframe for the operation. The Initial Operational Capability (IOC) is still planned to be achieved by mid-March.

This alarming situation demonstrated even more the relevance of the EUFOR and MINURCAT mandates. The deployment of the EUFOR Chad/CAR has underlined Union's commitment to contribute to the stabilisation of the region.

To achieve the set objectives, it requires in the first place: (i) the security provided by troops, and (ii) the willingness of the parties to dialogue and negotiate.

Thank you very much.


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Date: 12.03.2008