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Chad's president, rebels sign truce in Libya

President Idriss Deby and Mahamed Nour, the leader of the rebel group pledge to make peace.

india Updated: Dec 25, 2006 11:14 IST

Chad's president and a rebel leader pledged during a meeting held in Libya on Sunday to end the ongoing fighting in their country and urged other rebel groups to lay down their weapons.

President Idriss Deby and Mahamed Nour, the leader of the rebel group that attacked Chad's capital in April, pledged to make peace during a meeting hosted by Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi. Nour told journalists, "We thank God for enabling us to reach this agreement ... and we urge our colleagues to join it." Nour leads the Chadian United Front for Democratic Change, which launched a failed assault on N'djamena in April.

Competition for power in Chad has intensified since 2004 when it began exporting oil.

Chadian Foreign Minister Ahmat Allam-mi signed the agreement on Sunday on behalf of the government. But President Deby declared his support for the cease-fire.

"I vow in front of Gaddafi and everybody that we will be committed to our obligations," Deby told journalists. "I call on those who believe that weapons are the solution to join this agreement."

Gaddafi, who has acted as a mediator in several African conflicts in recent years including those in Sudan, said, "I am against any rebelliousness in Africa and carrying weapons should only be done against occupation, which has ended in Africa." "I hope that the raging fire in the African Horn will be extinguished," the Libyan leader said. "Goodwill must be stronger than the will to destroy."

Libyan state television showed footage of the politicians gathered round a fire in a tent draped with green fabric. A Libyan official close to the talks said the agreement provides for an amnesty for all the rebel group's members, integrating rebels into the military, facilitating the return refugees. The pact is to be implemented over three months, and other rebel groups have a month to sign on, the Libyan official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the press.

Since early November, some 300 people in eastern Chad have been killed in attacks on more than 70 villages, the United Nations has said. The violence in eastern Chad follows repeated warnings that the Darfur conflict could spill over and engulf the region where Chad, Sudan and the Central African Republic meet. The governments of Chad and Sudan trade accusations that each is supporting the other's rebels _ each side denies the charges. At least 350 people _ troops, rebels and civilians _ died in April during the rebel's assault on N'djamena.

First Published: Dec 25, 2006 05:05 IST