Chadian opposition to join govt ranks

Four government seats have been assigned to the opposition by presidential decree. President Idriss Deby sacked Prime Minister Coumakoye one week ago and replaced him with Youssouf Saleh Abbas, his diplomatic adviser.


Chad's main opposition coalition joined Wednesday the government of Prime Minister Youssouf Saleh Abbas, a week after the new man was installed by President Idriss Deby Itno.

Four ministerial posts went to the opposition Coordination of Political Parties for the Defence of the Constitution (CPDC), according to a presidential decree carried by public radio.

Wadal Abdelkader Kamougue was handed the defence portfolio and Jean Allingue will become a justice minister. Former CPDC spokesman Hamit Mahamat Dahalob and a fourth opposition figure Naimbaye Lossimian also won ministerial posts.

Chad's main opposition coalition had said on Monday it was ready to participate in an "open-door" government, responding to an invitation by Abbas.

"We don't see any problem in participating in the government," Hamit Mahamat Dahalob, an opposition spokesman told AFP.

"We have given our agreement in principle to the prime minister," he said, following a proposal last week by Saleh that the coalition join his government to restore peace in the troubled central African nation.

Deby sacked his prime minister Delwa Kassire Coumakoye one week ago and replaced him with Saleh, his diplomatic adviser.

Saleh hails from Ouaddai in the east of Chad where some of the rebel groupings hostile to the president are based, including the National Alliance led by General Mahamat Nouri.

Saleh was previously Chad's special representative to the United Nations and latterly the EUFOR peacekeeping force deployed in the region by the European Union.

Kassire, originally from the majority Christian south of the country, was in the post for little over a year having taken the reins following the death of his predecessor, another southerner.

EUFOR Chad-CAR is an EU peacekeeping mission, which will be some 3,700 strong once fully deployed, with a year-long mandate from last month to protect Sudanese Darfur refugees in Chad and the Central African Republic.

The force, led by a French general on the ground with an Irish general in command near Paris, is also tasked with protecting Chadian and CAR people displaced by internal strife, without intervening in domestic politics.

The opposition coalition suspended talks with the government following a failed rebel coup in February that was followed by the arrests of three leading opposition figures, allegedly by Chadian security forces.

Two of the three were later released but the third -- leader of the Party for Liberties and Development (PLD), Ibni Oumar Mahamat Saleh -- remains missing.

The PLD said it would not participate in the government until Saleh was freed.

Deby met with members of the opposition alliance earlier this month for the first time since the rebel attack on Ndjamena.

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