N’DJAMENA, Chad — President Idriss Deby said on Saturday Chad lacks confidence in the African Union’s ability to resolve the crisis with Sudan, the first time an African leader is questioning the body’s authority in its six-year history.
N’DJAMENA, Chad — President Idriss Deby said on Saturday Chad lacks confidence in the African Union’s ability to resolve the crisis with Sudan, the first time an African leader is questioning the body’s authority in its six-year history. Deby’s statement comes after the army fought with Chadian rebels in eastern Chad Thursday and Friday, battles during which the government says 225 rebels were killed and 22 soldiers. The government accuses Sudan of sponsoring rebels, a charge Sudan denies. The president also said his government is going to reevaluate its relations with Sudan and began by ordering the closure of Sudanese cultural centers in Chad. He also said the government will take over schools run by Sudanese in Chad. Chad and Sudan only resumed diplomatic ties in November following a six-month break after the neighbors traded accusations of supporting each other’s rebels. "The government should evaluate together with friendly countries our relations with the African Union seeing its inability to find suitable solutions to the Chadian-Sudanese crisis," Deby told a meeting of political leaders, including key opposition chiefs. "Chad should consider withdrawing its confidence in the African Union and hand over the resolution of the crisis only to the United Nations," the president said. Deby’s statement indirectly suggests Chad is considering withdrawing from the AU, which would be a first in the organization that was formed in July 2002. Morocco withdrew its membership from the AU’s predecessor, the Organization of African Unity, after the continental body gave observer status to the disputed territory of Western Sahara. The U.N. Security Council on Friday condemned this week’s rebel attacks in eastern Chad, saying they came from outside the country. Chadian rebels have sought to overthrow President Idriss Deby for more than three years. The rebellion followed disagreements within Deby’s inner circle about how to handle the Darfur conflict in neighboring Sudan. Deby and many of his top military officers come from eastern Chad, and have relatives living in Darfur. The group fighting Deby — the Force for the Union of Resistance Forces, or UFR — is led by his nephew Timane Erdimi, formerly in charge of oil affairs in the president’s office before falling out with him. Eastern Chad is a temporary home to about 300,000 refugees who have fled Sudan’s Darfur conflict. The region also has camps for 187,000 Chadians displaced by fighting locally and in Darfur. ______ Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.