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Sunday, November 26, 2006


Chad State of Emergency Extended

The Chadian government has extended a state of emergency to six months from an initial 12 days in the midst of continuing violence that has displaced tens of thousands of people.

"There is a kind of crisis of confidence between the communities in the areas and, in one way or another, between the communities and the administration," Prime Minister Pascal Yoadimnadji told parliament on Thursday when requesting that it authorise the extension.

"More time is needed to restore the administration, to sensitise the population, to reconcile populations and create confidence," he said.

The prime minister also said that the government would have the power disarm civilians and put in place more civilian and military authorities.

The state of emergency would affect the capital, N'djamena, and several areas in the east w[h]ere various armed groups have forced at least 75,000 people to flee their villages in the past year - 12,000 of them this month alone, according to the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR).

Armed men on horseback have attacked at least 23 villages in southeastern Chad since the beginning of November, UNHCR said, and people have fled 20 other villages in fear of more attacks. At least 200 people have been killed and dozens others wounded. Some have had their eyes gouged out, while others have been burned after being trapped when their homes were set on fire.

Last week some 10,000 other people were displaced by an attack on villages around the town of Koloy in the southeast. One aid worker from Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) was also killed and the whereabouts of three others remain unknown.

In his speech, Prime Minister Yoadimnadji blamed the government of Sudan for igniting violence between local communities in the east. He said Sudan is seeking to destabilise Chad by exporting its conflict from neighbouring Dafur.

Sudan denies the accusation. MSF issued a statement on Friday saying that the recently displaced people are victims of incursions from armed men from Sudan but also of fighting between the Chadian army and Chadian rebels.

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