French blamed in Chad coup

Mark Huband in Maroua, northern Cameroon

The Guardian, 4 December 1990

A SENIOR member of the ousted Chadian government said here yesterday that he believed France was involved in the uprising which led to President Hissene Habré being forced to flee at the weekend.

Mr Habré and some Chadian ministers and officials are in the Cameroon town of Maroua staying at the house of one of the ruling party’s officials after the invasion by Libyan-backed rebel forces, led by Mr Habré’s former army commander, Idriss Déby.

Asked if France was involved in a plot to bring about the downfall of the Habré government, the minister, who requested anonymity, said: “Yes. There you have it all.” He justified the silence of Mr Habré and his colleagues by saying that it would be undiplomatic to speak out too much while a refugee in Cameroon.

The Chadian air force plane which brought many of the group is being guarded by Cameroonian soldiers at Maroua airport.

Meanwhile, in the Chadian capital, N’djamena, Libyan prisoners were released yesterday by the country’s new leader. Most of them were captured by Chad during its border war with Libya, which ended in 1988, radio reports from N’djamena said.

Mr Déby is also believed by the deposed president and the United States to have been backed by Libya. His incursion began on November 10 when he invaded the east of Chad from Sudan. Within a week his Popular Salvation Movement (MPS) claimed it had killed over 2,000 government troops.

Mr Déby – who as army commander led the campaign against the Libyans and achieved a reputation as a tactician – arrived in N’djamena on Sunday and immediately declared that he had no intention of becoming president but committed himself to establishing a multi-party system.



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