There is now hope of an end to the long guerrilla war that has wrecked Chad for twelve years, and threatened wider conflict.
There is now hope of an end to the long guerrilla war that has wrecked Chad for twelve years, and threatened wider conflict. Four North African leaders met on Thursday (23 February) in Sebha, 1,000 kilometres south of Tripoli and agreed a five point plan they hope will lead to peace. Under the agreement Chad President Felix Malloum will meet with leaders of the Chad Liberation Front in Sebha on March 21 for discussions.
SYNOPSIS: President Malloum and Colonel Muammar Gaddafi leader of the Libyan Jamahiriyah agreed to the peace plan after two days of discussions. Since taking power in 1975 the Chad President has tried to implement a policy of national reconciliation. But the guerrillas have called for a complete change of government.
Malloum spoke of the fraternity and friendship of the meeting at which the four leaders thrashed out the five point agreement. But observers say he has been forced to give in to some of the guerrillas' demands -- because of their military strength. The guerrilla front -- Frolinat -- now claim control of half the vast impoverished country. Frolinat has called for the release of political prisoners in Chad, free elections, a new constitution and a programme of national reconciliation.
In the past Chad accused the Tripoli Government of backing the Chad guerrillas and broke off diplomatic relations. But now relations are to be restored. And a military committee composed of officers from the Jamahiriyah and Niger will supervise a ceasefire announced on February 20th.
Chad and Colonel Gaddafi's government are in dispute over the Aouzou strip, a border area claimed by both nations. The strip is potentially rich in uranium and manganese. It was there that the guerrilla war started in 1966.
It was here in Sebha that the agreement was signed on Friday (24 February). And it is here too that President Malloum will meet the guerrilla leaders who oppose him. For Colonel Gaddafi -- the Sebha declaration is seen as a diplomatic triumph.
With Malloum and Gaddafi in the talks were Niger President Seyni Kountche and Sudan Vice-President Abdul-Kassim. Gaddafi announced the meeting when he opened the current Organisation of African Unity Council of Ministers meeting in Tripoli -- an announcement that focused attention on a little known war. A Libyan spokesman said the March meeting would aim at strengthening efforts for national reconciliation in Chad.