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Missing opposition leader 'found'

Latest update : 2008-02-23

Senior Chadian government officials said a second opposition figure, one of three missing since this month's foiled rebel attack, had been found alive. But the family of opposition leader Yorongar (photo) denied having seen him.

A second missing Chadian opposition leader has been found alive, ministers said Friday, amid increasing international pressure on the government over the disappearances.

"I can announce that Mr Yorongar Ngarlejey appeared Thursday evening at his home" in the Moursal district, Interior and Security Minister Ahmat Bachir told journalists.

"He was identified by people tasked with looking for him as well as local witnesses," he said, adding, "All those supposed to have disappeared are reappearing by themselves as if by chance."

Yorongar's reappearance was announced earlier Friday by Chad's Foreign Minister Ahmad Allam-Mi on a visit to Paris.

The Chadian authorities said Thursday they had been unable to find opposition politicians missing since a foiled rebel attack on the capital Ndjamena this month.

They included veteran opposition leader Yorongar and Ibni Oumar Mahamat Saleh, spokesman for the opposition alliance.

A third opposition leader, former president Lol Mahamat Choua, was found alive but in custody last week.

Lol "was caught in the act with mercenaries and is in the hands of the police for the requirements of the inquiry," Bachir said Friday.

"Searches for the other people... are continuing" he said, alleging that they had gone into hiding or were travelling.

The government said in a statement Thursday that "the inquiry led by the judicial police and the military intelligence service has not been able so far to find all the politicians reported missing."

"The government is seeking to shed light on these disappearances by creating an inquiry commission, which would be open as needed to the international community," the statement said.

After the failed February 3 rebel offensive, all three were seized from their homes by armed, uniformed men, and their relatives and the opposition accused President Idriss Deby Itno's presidential guard of rounding them up.

The three had signed an accord in August last year with the Deby regime, aimed at ending some 30 years of civil war and establishing a democratic state by 2009.

The United Nations' top human rights body earlier Friday voiced concern    "about the reported abduction and detention of several opposition leaders as well as members of civil society organisations in Chad in the wake of recent fighting in Ndjamena."

Rupert Colville, spokesman for the High Commissioner for Human Rights, added, "While appreciating that the government faced a major crisis, with fighting taking place right in the heart of the capital city, it is important that detentions take place in full accordance with standards laid down under international law."

He added, "We call on the government of Chad to respect fundamental human rights and freedoms during the period of state of emergency, which we hope will be as brief as possible."

Allam-Mi said in Paris that "figures in civil society have fled, to Kousseri (in Cameroon) or to Paris. We can guarantee that they can return to the country and exercise their activities, there is no witch-hunt."

Allam-Mi was evasive when asked if France had passed on monitored telephone conversations indicating collusion between opposition politicians and rebels.


Date created : 2008-02-23