N’DAMENA, Chad (AP) – Chad’s transitional military government said Sunday it would not negotiate with rebels accused of killing the president for three decades, raising the specter that militants could pose a threat to attack the capital. :
In Chad, a spokesman for a rebel group called the Front for Change Accord told the Associated Press that it was now joining other militant groups opposed to President Idris Debbie Itno’s son Mahamat taking control of the country after his father was assassinated.
In a televised statement, military spokesman General Azem Bermandoa Aguma said the rebels wanted to cooperate with “several groups of jihadist mercenaries trafficked in Libya.”
“This situation, which threatens the stability of the entire Chad subregion, is not the time to mediate or negotiate with illegal laws,” he said.
The military spokesman said some of the rebels had fled to the Chadian border with Niger and called on the Nigerian government to help capture them.
“The security and defense forces, backed by small groups regrouped in the Niger area from the Chadian capital, deployed them with the support of the air force,” he said.
A spokesman for the AP group, Kingabe Oguizimi de Tapol, told the AP that the rebels had not surrendered, although he declined to say where the forces were on Sunday, citing security concerns.
“There are other armed groups that have joined us,” he said. “We welcome them; we integrate them into our various battalions.”
The Chadian rebels, known by their French acronym FACT, were based in southern Libya and are thought to have crossed into Chad earlier this month on election day. Debbie, who has been president since 1990, easily won based on official results, as several leading opposition politicians did not participate.
The next day, however, the military announced that Debbie had been fatally wounded while visiting the front lines of the war against the rebels. His son, Mahamat Idris Debi, has been appointed head of the military council, which envisions an 18-month transition to new elections.
The former colonial power, France, was careful not to criticize the hostilities, and last week, French President Emanuel Macron attended Debbie’s funeral. Chad has a French military base in the region, which is responsible for counterterrorism operations in the region. Chad has also sent troops to a UN peacekeeping mission in northern Mali.
However, political opposition groups have condemned the appointment of Mahmat Idris Debi as a coup, saying he should have been replaced by the speaker of the National Assembly. Opposition groups called for a halt to the protests this week, calling for a return to civilian rule.
Associated Press writer Edward Takadji told the story on N’Djamena, and AP writer Kirsta Larson told the story from Dakar, Senegal.