Chad´s president says government ´in total control&a

N’DJAMENA,Chad – Chad’s president said his government was in control of the entire country Wednesday, speaking publicly for the first time since rebels tried to overthrow him. Idriss Deby wore a military uniform as he received reporters in the presidentia

He denied reports that he had been injured as the capital of the Central African nation was besieged, spreading his arms wide and saying, "Look at me, I’m fine." "We are in total control, not only of the capital, but of all the country," Deby said. "The security forces have repulsed the aggressors. The mercenaries directed by Sudan have been forced to flee," he added.

Chad has repeatedly said that neighboring Sudan is backing the rebels who launched a coup attempt Friday, sparking a weekend of battles in N’Djamena, in an attempt to prevent the deployment of a European force to protect Darfur refugees. Sudan has denied involvement, but has long resisted such a force.

Meanwhile, the relief group Save the Children said Wednesday it was running low on food and other supplies for refugee camps in the east. No civilian planes – including aid flights – have been allowed into Chad since the fighting started. Programs serving more than half a million people, including displaced Chadians and Sudanese refugees, could fall apart if an emergency aid corridor isn’t opened quickly, the group said.

Deby said the Chadian army was chasing the rebels, who were fleeing east. "We are going to catch them before they enter Sudan," he said, speaking for about half an hour while seated in a chair with the flags of Chad and the African Union displayed behind him. However, French Defense Minister Herve Morin, who flew to Chad Wednesday in a show of support for the former colony’s government, suggested that the rebels had not been completely routed.

"There is a column of support that is en route, but it is moving slowly," he told France- Inter radio without elaborating. Rebel phones went unanswered despite repeated calls Wednesday, though Libya’s U.N. ambassador has said that rebel groups told Libyan officials they were ready for a cease-fire.

Chad’s capital was besieged Friday by rebels in pickup trucks who had advanced in a matter of days from their eastern bases near the Sudan border to N’Djamena in the southwest of the country. A weekend of deadly battles ensued, forcing thousands to flee and leaving roads littered with bodies. (AP)

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