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NGO says Chad opposition leaders 'captured'

Latest update : 2008-02-27

Human Rights Watch researcher Olivier Bercault claims missing Chad opposition leaders have been abducted by the army in the wake of unrest in Chad, a claim denied by the government.

 

The controversy over the disappearance of several Chadian opposition leaders continues to grow.

 

Friday, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said that “reliable witnesses” saw one of the missing alive.

 

The human rights organisation Human Rights Watch (HRW) declared that two opposition leaders had in fact been abducted by government forces.

 

“Ibni Oumar Mahamat Saleh [spokesperson for a coalition of opposition parties] and Ngarlejy Yorongar [opposition MP] were captured by the army,” declared HRW’s Olivier Bercault on FRANCE 24.

 

The organisation denies allegations by Chadian government officials and French FM Bernard Kouchner saying Ngarlejy Yorongar was hiding. “ Mr. Yorongar (…) was found. He is still hiding, but quite reliable witnesses have seen him and he is alive,” he said on the French parliamentary station on Monday.

 

This statement follows a declaration by Chadian foreign and justice ministers who assured on Friday, in a press conference in Paris, that Yorongar reappeared “in his neighbourhood in N’Djamena. The two officials accused him of disappearing voluntarily.”

 

“The Chadian government has denied arresting them, contrary to the information gathered by the HRW,” declared Bercault citing an investigation conducted by his organisation. According to the HRW inquiry, armed men wearing army uniforms arrested the two men at their homes on Feb. 3.

 

According to HRW, these arrests were part of a wave of repression against the opposition in N’Djamena following the attempted coup in Chad. “They have been accused of maneuvering with the rebels, an accusation that has absolutely not been proven,” said the human rights militant on FRANCE 24.

 

HRW calls for an independent inquiry on these disappearances, an idea raised initially by Chadian President Idriss Déby.

 

The human rights organisation called on President Nicolas Sarkozy to “draw conclusions” days ahead of his scheduled visit in Chad.

 

“Visiting Chad under these conditions is a way of endorsing a situation that shouldn’t be endorsed,” added Bercault.

 

Friday, Kouchner requested that Chad agreed to “a number of conditions” and shed a light on the fate of the political opponents ahead of a possible visit by Sarkozy.       

Date created : 2008-02-26

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