US orders non-essential personnel out of Chad over fears of rebel attacks on capital

As long-serving president Idriss Deby seems set for election win, fighting has broken out between army and rebels in country’s north

The US has ordered its non-essential diplomats out of Chad over fears of insurgent attacks on the capital, as early election results show president Idriss Deby is poised to continue his three-decade rule of the African nation.

With armed groups appearing to be advancing on the capital, N’Djamena, the US State Department on Saturday ordered non-essential diplomats and families of American personnel to leave the country.

“Armed non-governmental groups in northern Chad have moved south and appear to be heading toward N’Djamena,” the department said in a travel alert.

“Due to their growing proximity to N’Djamena, and the possibility for violence in the city, non-essential US government employees have been ordered to leave Chad by commercial airline.”

Four tanks and several soldiers were stationed at the northern entrance of the N’Djamena on Saturday evening, where military vehicles were continuing to drive towards the fighting, an AFP journalist said.

Chad’s army said on Saturday it had “completely destroyed” a column of Libya-based rebels that attacked the country on 11 April, the day of the presidential election.

Soldiers were searching for the last of the rebels, army spokesman Azem Bermandoa Agouna said in a statement read out on national television.

“The adventure of the mercenaries from Libya has ended, as announced,” communications minister and government spokesman Cherif Mahamat Zene announced on Twitter.

On Saturday, the UK government said on its travel advisory website that two rebel convoys were heading towards N’Djamena. One had passed the town of Faya, some 770km (478 miles) north-east of the capital, and another was seen approaching the town of Mao, around 220km to the north.

The Tibesti mountains near the Libyan frontier frequently see fighting between rebels and the army. French air strikes were needed to stop an incursion there in early 2019, while in February 2008, a rebel assault reached the gates of the presidential palace before being pushed back with French backing.

Meanwhile, partial provisional results from the 11 April election show Deby with a strong early lead, winning a majority in all but one of the 51 departments announced so far. He has secured a plurality in the other, with 61 departments remaining, according to the Independent National Election Commission (CENI).

Kilmapone Larme, head of logistics at the commission, said they had still not received more than 30% of results.

An ally of Western powers in the fight against Islamist militants in west and central Africa, Deby is one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders, but there are signs of growing discontent over his handling of the nation’s oil wealth.

Chad’s government has been forced to cut back public spending in recent years because of the low price of oil, its main export, sparking labour strikes.

Opposition leaders called on their supporters to boycott last week’s polls.

“Until midday, the polling stations were almost empty in almost all towns in the country but CENI has just concocted fictitious results to deceive Chadians,” Yacine Abderaman Sakine, the head of the opposition Reform Party, told Reuters.

“We do not recognise this result.”

Reuters, Agence-France Presse and Associated Press contributed to this report

Guardian staff and agencies

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Rebel troops advance on Chad capital
The capital of the African republic of Chad was on alert last night as rebel forces were reported to have reached within 100 kms (60 miles) in an effort to unseat President Idriss Deby. In hit-and-run attacks over three days the rebel troops travelling in pick-up trucks mounted with machine guns had clashed with government forces on the road to N'Djamena, diplomats said.

Betel Miarom N'Djamena

13, Apr, 2006 @8:33 AM

Chad regime under threat after rebel attack on capital
· Guerrillas claim to control 80% of African country
· New oil pipeline sweetens prize of toppling president

Rory Carroll, Africa correspondent

13, Apr, 2006 @11:04 PM

Chad orders oil firms to quit
Chad's president has threatened to expel energy giants Chevron and Petronas, two of the three consortium partners in a World Bank-backed project that was meant to serve as a model for oil extraction in Africa.

Xan Rice

27, Aug, 2006 @11:04 PM

Chad rebels pull back from capital
Rebels seeking to overthrow Chad's president withdraw from N'Djamena as government soldiers patrol streets

Elizabeth Stewart, Chris McGreal and agencies

04, Feb, 2008 @5:31 PM

Sudan severs Chad ties after Darfur rebels attack capital

Chad denies involvement, but does have a history of close military ties with the Justice and Equality Movement

Xan Rice in Nairobi

11, May, 2008 @11:03 PM

Article image
Dozens die as Chad rebels are pushed back from capital
· Security council demands support for government
· 200,000 refugees are at risk, warn aid agencies

Xan Rice, east Africa correspondent

05, Feb, 2008 @1:52 AM

Chad journalists strike over state censorship

Journalists in Chad have gone on strike in protest at state censorship. The press gag is part of the imposition of a six-month state of emergency by the government of President Idriss Deby. It means that six newspapers cannot publish for the next two weeks, while several radio stations must observe a three-day period of "silence". Yaldet Begoto Oulatar, publisher of the paper N'Djamena Bi-Hebdo, said: "The government is muzzling the press before it embarks on measures that it knows will be unpopular." And Nadjikimo Benoudjita, editor of Notre Temps, said: "We can't discuss Darfur or the conflict between rebels and government forces... We are not even allowed to say that we are censored." (Via http://english.aljazeera.net/">Aljazeera English)

Roy Greenslade

07, Dec, 2006 @10:06 PM

Hanging Chad

Conor Clarke: The scandalous attempt to smuggle 103 children out of Chad speaks volumes about how the west views African suffering.

Conor Clarke

09, Nov, 2007 @12:00 PM

At a glance: Chad rebellion
Victory by the rebel United Front for Change, a coalition of three forces, would have important regional consequences. Chad is home to about 420,000 refugees from Sudan's Darfur region, who may be made more vulnerable by a rebel victory because of the UFC's ties to the government in Khartoum. About 180,000 Chadians have also been forced into camps by the conflict.

04, Feb, 2008 @8:41 AM

Chad journalist arrested over child soldiers article

A journalist in Chad who wrote about the country's alleged use of child soldiers has been arrested. Evariste Ngaralbaye, of the privately-owned weekly Notre Temps, was detained four days ago by the national gendarmerie. His arrest followed a press conference in which the defence minister denied that children were being recuited and warned journalists not to "cast a slur on the army". The press watchdog, Reporters Without Borders, has called for his release, arguing that "journalists are entitled to write about a subject of public interest, such as the army, without fear of imprisonment." (Via AllAfrica.com)

Roy Greenslade

31, Oct, 2006 @7:12 AM