N”DJAMENA, (Reuters) – Chad, which accuses Sudan of backing rebel attacks on its eastern border, fears Khartoum may be preparing a fresh assault which could also destabilise other neighbouring states, President Idriss Deby said.
Deby briefed the president of Central African Republic, Francois Bozize, late on Monday about Chad”s charges that the Sudanese government organized and directed two attacks by Chadian rebels against the border town of Adre on Dec. 18.
"One can”t rule out Khartoum making another repeat attack against Chad," Deby told reporters in N”Djamena after meeting Bozize. He said the Sudanese government was preparing for such a move at el-Geneina in Sudan”s western Darfur region.
On Friday, Chad said a "state of belligerence" existed between itself and Sudan. The Sudanese government expressed surprise and said it would not allow its territory to be used for attacks on neighbouring states.
But Deby, who accuses Khartoum of supporting Chadian rebels of the Rally for Democracy and Liberty (RDL) who are seeking to topple him, said Sudan”s government had sent a 50-vehicle motorised military column towards the southern Sudanese border.
Without offering more details, he suggested this might risk destabilising Central African Republic, which lies southwest of Sudan.
"This is a worry not just for Chad but for all of Sudan”s neighbours … if Chad is targeted, I don”t see how Central African Republic won”t be affected," Deby said.
Central African Republic”s Bozize said he had also spoken to Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir about the tensions with Chad. "Anything that happens in Chad or affects it has repercussions for Central African Republic," he told reporters.
Deby called on leaders of the six-nation Central African Economic and Monetary Union (CEMAC), of which Chad is a member, to meet to discuss the dispute with Sudan before a scheduled summit in January of the continent-wide African Union (AU).
The other CEMAC members are Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo Republic, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
Chad has made clear it objects to Sudan hosting the upcoming AU summit on Jan. 23-24 and has also called on the AU not to allow al-Bashir to become the next chairman of the body.
Chad says its forces repulsed the Dec. 18 assaults on Adre, killing about 300 of the attackers, pursuing the rebels over the border into Sudan and destroying their bases there.
The RDL rebels say they only lost nine men and that more than 70 government troops were killed.