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Latest update : 2008-03-07

France has offered political asylum to Chadian opponent Ngarlejy Yorongar. In a FRANCE 24 exclusive interview, Chad's President Idriss Deby said: "Neither Mr Yorongar nor Mr Ibni Oumar were arrested by the military." (Report: N.Rushworth)

Ngarlejy Yorongar, a member of the Chadian opposition who went missing for one month after a government crackdown, landed in Paris on Thursday morning.


Yorongar said that he was arrested Feb. 3 by Chadian security forces at the end of a rebel attack on Chad's capital N'Djamena. The rebel attack was defeated at the last minute by forces loyal to President Idriss Deby, with help from France, his ally. Yorongar's story has been corroborated by several witnesses.


"Men from the presidential guard took me away from home and beat me up in front of my wife and children," he told journalists waiting outside the plane.


He said he spent 19 days in a "secret prison" in Chad, then fled to Cameroon.  "I'm worried that I was given poison in captivity," he added.


French Prime Minister François Fillon said on Tuesday that France was ready to grant political asylum to Yorongar. "The moment hasn't come yet,"  Yorongar said at the airport.


Yorongar said that Ibni Oumar Mahamat Saleh, another opposition figure who went missing on Feb. 3, was held in the same jail he was.


"Ibni Oumar Mahamat Saleh was brought in after me. The military started beating him up, punching, kicking , hitting him with the grip of their guns," Yorongar said. "Unless some miracle happened, he must have died between Feb. 4 and Feb.  6," he added.


Chadian president denies involvement


In an exclusive interview for "The Talk of Paris" on FRANCE 24, Deby denied that government forces were involved in the detention of Yorongar or Ibni Oumar Mahamat Saleh.


"Neither Mr Yorongar nor Mr Ibni Oumar were arrested by the military," Deby said in the interview, recorded on Wednesday.


Asked about the possibility that the presidential guard carried out the arrest, Deby added: "The presidential guard had other things to do than arrest people."


The Chadian president said that N'Djamena was under rebel control until 6.30pm on Feb. 3, the day several opponents went missing.


Deby confirmed that former Chadian President Lol Mahamat Choua was arrested on that day, but said he had no information about the fate of other disappeared leaders.


"We have set up an inquiry committee that is open to international scrutiny. Let us wait for the conclusions of this enquiry," he said.

Deby said that people were missing on both government and opposition sides. "To figure out the whereabouts of  those missing, including Ibni Oumar Mahamat Saleh, is a crucial question," he told FRANCE 24. " At least two members from my cabinet are still missing to this day."


Yorongar said he hoped the French government would encourage an inquiry into Saleh's case. "I ask France to do everything for light to be shed" on his disappearance, he said.

Date created : 2008-03-07