afrol News, 11 October - The once powerful Chadian UFR rebels have decided to lay down their arms, vacate their bases in Sudan and make use of the amnesty issued by President Idriss Déby. Some dissidents however want to keep on the fight.
In a statement sent to afrol News and issued by UFR spokesman Hissein Ibrahim Acyl, the Chadian rebels declare an end to the armed struggle against the government of President Déby.
Early in 2008, the Chadian Union of Resistance Forces (UFR) was closing in on N'djamena, threatening to overthrow the government. Since that, the rebels were driven back over the border to Sudan. But during the last year, with Chad-Sudan relations thawing, also Sudanese authorities have pressurised the UFR's disintegration.
The UFR declaration says rebels would now follow the peace calls from President Déby and international organisations. The group emphasised it did not want to stand in the way for the "bilateral relationship between the two brotherly countries Chad and neighbouring Sudan."
Both "political and military leaders" of the UFR had decided to respond positively to President Déby's general amnesty and "policy of an outstretched hand," and would return to Chad from their Sudanese bases.
The returning rebels now hope to reach their goals peacefully in Chad, where they want to take actively part in "reforming" government. "As we decided to return voluntarily, we hope that we can effectively contribute to building our beloved country," the statement said, adding there were strong reform needs in Chad.
The sudden agreement among most UFR leaders and fighters to lay down their arms comes after strong Sudanese pressure. The Khartoum government, formerly allied to the UFR, ordered the disarming of Chadian rebels on their territory and the closure of their bases.
During this year, however, some UFR fighters reacted to the Sudanese pressure by crossing the border to the Central African Republic, a vast country wit
h poorly equipped military forces. Sudan's army this month announced it would intensify cooperation with its Central African counterparts and establish joint border patrols, as afrol News reported last week.
Mr Acyl of the UFR in his statement appealed to "all members of the Chadian armed opposition, particularly UFR members, to accept the option of voluntary return." Dissident UFR members should recall the friendship and hospitality of the Sudanese people and therefore respect their wish for disarmament.
The new split within the UFR can be attributed both to old divisions and the recruitment of fighters during the last years. Mr Acyl, who now acts as spokesman and one of the driving forces in the UFR peace wing, was among the founding members of the rebel group and brought with him the political movement Front for the Health of the Republic (FSR).
Several of the founders of the UFR were more or less militant political groups, deciding to join the armed fight against the Déby regime. Many of these, including the FSR leader, have a political platform and work to return to in N'djamena.
Others, including many of the fighters recruited on both sides of the Sudan-Chad border, know little other than armed rebellion and have little to return to in war-ravaged eastern Chad. Many of these fighters have chosen to go to the new rebel bases in the Central African Republic.
The militant remains of the UFR however are strongly weakened. Although their numbers are uncertain, they are not expected to pose a threat to Chad. They may however pose a big threat to civilians in northern Central African Republic, an already war-ravaged area with a large power vacuum.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.