France evacuates 400 from N’Djamena

And so the mass exodus begins. France has today evacuated 400 French and foreign citizens from the capital of Chad, N’Djamena, following fresh fighting in the city. The civilians were evacuated to Libreville, the capital of nearby Gabon. The BBC cites an Agence France-Presse scribe describing the evacuees as “harassed but happy” on arrival.

Evacuees arrive in Gabon. (Image: BBC News/AFP)
Evacuees arrive in Gabon. (Image: BBC News/AFP)

The BBC also reports that there are at least “several hundred others” still in sealed-off areas of N’Djamena being guarded by French troops. Rebel forces, which have been fighting towards the capital from the east for the past two days, entered N’Djamena yesterday. The BBC report, citing the AFP, says that France has offered to evacuate President Idriss Déby, who rejected the offer. Chad’s army chief of staff has already been killed in fighting.

This comes despite Libya’s efforts to broker a ceasefire between the rebels and President Déby’s government forces, with leader Muammar al-Qaddafi having called the rebel leader to propose one. However, according to a rebel spokesman, “no ceasefire has been agreed”, and the rebels are holding back only to allow Mr Déby to leave if he wishes.

There is little doubt in my mind that a Sudan-backed coup d’état is occurring right now in Chad. And yet somehow, preposterously, the African Union has threatened to throw Chad out of the group if the rebels take over. Surely they should be punishing Khartoum!

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