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8 May 2009 - Chad: Stakeout by Mr. Jean-Maurice Ripert, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

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Click on the photo to watch the stakeout

(in French and English)

Le Conseil ce matin a entendu un rapport du Département des opérations de maintien de la paix qui a confirmé que trois colonnes rebelles avaient lancé des offensives concertées pour tenter de rallier N’Djamena et renverser le gouvernement légitime du Tchad. Le rapport du Secrétariat a fait état du fait qu’ils avaient eu des inquiétudes auparavant, qu’ils avaient d’ailleurs déjà manifestées devant le Conseil, liées à la concentration de ces troupes de l’autre côté de la frontière, à El Geneina, ce qui semble indiquer évidemment une certaine forme de soutien et d’organisation à ces groupes rebelles de l’autre côté de la frontière entre le Tchad et le Soudan. L’ensemble des Etats membres du Conseil ont très clairement condamné cette tentative de déstabilisation du gouvernement légitime du Tchad et de prise de pouvoir par la force, en rappelant notamment la déclaration que notre Conseil avait adoptée il y a quelques jours qui condamnait toute tentative de prise de pouvoir par des processus inconstitutionnels. Nous sommes en train de préparer une déclaration présidentielle afin de condamner cette opération militaire déstabilisante pour le gouvernement et nous espérons conclure cet après-midi.


The Council heard this morning a report by DPKO which stated very clearly that three columns of hundreds of armed rebels have launched an offensive aimed at taking over the power in N’Djamena. They have no other political program than to seize power in illegal manner, there are some fightings on the ground. The Secretary-General also reported that, as he stated a few days ago, a concentration of those troops had been observed on the other side of the border, in Darfur, in El Geneina which leads us to think that those troops are coming from outside of the border. The whole membership of the Council very clearly condemned this attempt to seize the power by force in the line of the PRST that we adopted last week condemning any kind of taking over by unconstitutional means. We are currently preparing a PRST that we hope to have an agreement on early this afternoon to condemn this operation and recall the necessity for Sudan and for all parties to stop supporting any kind of rebel groups against any kind of governements. We also of course stress the importance of the respect of all parties of international humanitarian law. This is a region, the Eastern Chad, where we have thousands of refugees, IDPs, where the civilian populations are vulnerable and we are asking all parties to respect their obligations and not to try to act against those civilians.


(Pourquoi est-ce que jusque là vous n’avez pas pu vous entendre sur la déclaration ? Apparemment, les Français veulent dans le texte qu’on stipule clairement que les rebelles tchadiens ont été armés par les Soudanais?)

Nous sommes dans un processus normal de négociations, la décision de convoquer le Conseil, vous en avez été témoin, a été prise hier, donc il a fallu travailler vite. Nous travaillons en consultations avec nos partenaires, à la fois à New York et dans les capitales. C’est un processus normal qui prend du temps. Encore une fois, je vous redis, il y a unanimité pour condamner les actions des rebelles et pour réaffirmer la légitimité du gouvernement du Tchad. Il y a un peu de travail à faire, rédactionnel, sur la qualification et les mots que nous allons employer pour le dire. C’est un processus normal et, encore une fois, nous espérons obtenir un texte cet après-midi.

(Est-ce que vous allez accepter une formulation où les rebelles ne seront pas clairement désignés comme étant armés par les Soudanais ?)

J’ai dit la position très claire de la France à l’instant, et je peux aussi vous renvoyer aux déclarations très claires faites par le président de la République, Nicolas Sarkozy, le 7 mai, ou par le Ministre des Affaires Etrangères, nous n’avons en ce qui nous concerne aucun doute sur l’origine et le soutien apportés par certains à ces groupes armés. Maintenant, au Conseil de Sécurité, il s’agit d’obtenir un consensus pour que nous puissions exprimer notre condamnation des événements de manière unanime. Nous ferons le nécessaire.

(There seem to be some factual dispute about the rebels’ progress into the country. Has Chad, beyond what was said in the Council, given any report to France of where the rebels are ? The Sudanese ambassador claimed that the letter was actually written by the French mission, that he sees the hands of France ... ?)

I won’t even answer the second question. I think it’s an insult to the Chadian government. Regarding the first question, we don’t have any concrete observation on the result of the actions yesterday, but it seems that there was some very tough fight by air and on the ground. It seems that the first column of rebels has been defeated. The scope of the defeat is unknown until now. The governement of Chad is claiming that it has killed many people and hold prisoner more than a hundred of rebels, but I’m not in a position, from New York, to confirm that.

(If the capital was under threat by the rebels, in the coming days, would France use its military power to stop them ?)

I should just remind you that we have a very clear, specific, mutually beneficiary relationship with Chad. There are French forces who are there to support, first of all the humanitarian mission of the United Nations, we should recall that. There are some UN troops, we also have French troops supporting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Chad, and we are proud to do that, in complete agreement with the governement, but for the moment the question is not there. The column has been defeated very very far away from the capital, so it is not the point.

(Justement, au regard des accords de coopération entre la France et le Tchad, à quel moment la France peut-elle intervenir ? Qu’est-ce qu’il faut pour que la France intervienne ?)

Les accords de défense sont faits pour aider le Tchad a défendre sa souveraineté et son intégrité territoriale. Pour l’instant, le gouvernement tchadien, selon nos informations comme je viens de le dire, a fait face parfaitement bien à l’attaque menée par la première colonne. Nous ne connaissons pas encore militairement les résultats des combats d’hier, en tout cas pas ici à New York, donc je ne peux pas commenter, donc la question pour l’instant ne se pose pas. Pour l’instant, l’armée tchadienne défend le pouvoir légitime au Tchad.

(Mr. Titoff said that MINURCAT had reported that at least one colum of rebels was static in Darfur. What does this say in terms of the possibility that Sudan might be involved ?)

I think that your question is your answer.

(Would MINURCAT engage with these rebels to defend NGOs or humanitarian access ?)

The MINURCAT has a mandate to protect the civilians, and they have helped the NGOs and the humanitarian workers leave the zones where there was some fighting, so they are under the protection of MINURCAT. But you have to note that those rebels have started their offensive precisely at a moment where we are in between of the withdrawal of the EUFOR European force and the full deployment of the UN force. They have seized a moment when the international presence is at its lowest, which is very preoccupying.

(Do you think that at this moment there are questions in the Security Council to reshape the mandate of MINURCAT, shifting it from a protection of civilians to ... ?)

There is absolutely no discussion. First of all, the protection of civilians is the heart of the mandate of MINURCAT. MINURCAT is a force that has been deployed to protect the camps, the people in the camps, the zones around the camps, at the exception of the protection of the border. So their mandate is to protect the civilians, this is very clear. The problem now for MINURCAT is to have full deployment. It is going too slowly, and we want to push and help as much as we can, and the remaining forces of EUFOR are not under blue helmets. The still have more than seven hundred French soldiers, and they are there to help under UN mandate, to help the full deployment of MINURCAT and they will leave very soon.

(Could you summarize what you would like to see in the statement by the Security Council ?)

We want to state the condemnation of what is happening, a restatement of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Chad and to recall what we said last February, the fact that the international community is not accepting what is going on, that the fighting should cease, that those rebel groups should desarm and join the political process. Yesterday in N’Djamena, an agreement was signed on the independant electoral commission. The Libyan ambassador recalled that there is now a member of the Chadian governement who is coming from the opposition, so we insist on the fact that there is a political track for the opposition in Chad, and they should stop violence. We call on all parties outside of Chad to stop supporting any violence. At the same time we want to support the process of reconciliation between Chad and Sudan, this is very important, and we are supporting very heartfully the efforts by Congo and by Libya to put forward the positon of the Dakar agreement. Of course, we want also to restate the fact that on the other side of the border, we support what is called now the Doha process. France is very much involved in supporting, with the Americans for instance, the facilitation by Qatar and by Libya on top of the work of Djibril Bassolé. We think there is a whole set of procedures, of agreements, of negociations on track and we want to see these military operations stop, because they are endangering those political tracks.

(Is Minister Kouchner asking for a meeting on Sri Lanka on Monday ?)

On the side of the meeting of the Security Council on the Middle East, which has been convened, as you know, by the Russian presidency of the Council, we are currently organizing together with the UK, David Miliband and Bernard Kouchner, a meeting about Sri Lanka because we are very concerned about the still very dangerous situation for civilians in Sri Lanka.

(Is it gonna be an informal dialogue ? )

It will be an informal meeting, we are currently working on the format. Thank you./.



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