Chad’s ruling military council has struck out of the table any negotiation with rebels who launched an offensive in the north of the poor Sahel country two weeks ago and are accused of killing President Idriss Deby.
“The time is not for mediation, nor for negotiation with outlaws,” Azem Bermandoa Agouna, spokesman of the military council headed by the late strongman’s son Mahamat Idriss Deby, said on Sunday after the rebels said they were prepared to observe a ceasefire.
“They are rebels, which is why we are bombing them. We are waging war, that’s all,” Agouna said.
The military council claimed that Mahamat Mahadi Ali, the leader of the rebels known as the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), had fled into Niger and appealed to help from its neighbour to track him down.
READ ALSO: Chad’s President killed on the battlefield
“Chad calls for the cooperation and solidarity of Niger … to facilitate the capture and bringing to justice of these war criminals,” Agouna said.
The FACT rebels came over the northern border from Libya on April 11 calling for an end to Deby’s 30-year rule.
They came as close as 200-300km (125-185 miles) from the capital, N’Djamena, before being pushed back by the army.
Deby died after succumbing to wounds sustained while leading troops against the rebel offensive, just after he won an election.
His death shocked the Central African country, which has long been a Western and regional ally against armed groups they call “Islamist militants”.
The air force has since bombarded rebel positions, the military and rebels said. The military said on Saturday it had “annihilated” the rebels.
After Deby’s death, a military council headed by his son, Mahamat Idriss Deby, seized power and said it would oversee an 18-month transition to elections.
Opposition politicians called this a coup, and the rebels said they would not accept a “monarchy”.
“FACT is ready to observe a ceasefire for a political settlement that respects the independence and sovereignty of Chad and does not endorse a coup d’etat,” FACT spokesman Kingabe Ogouzeimi de Tapol told Reuters news agency.
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