African Press International (API)

"Daily Online News Channel".

Chad represents a huge challenge to EU, says Solana

Posted by African Press International on May 10, 2008

Publisher: Korir, africanpress@getmail.no source.apa

Arising from his three-day official findings into the political situation in Chad; and a separate meeting with the Central African Republics President Francois Bozize, the European Unions Javier Solana was quick to described Chad as a huge challenge to the EU.

“It is not really a problem of resources but more of the challenge this operation represents for the European Union, given the immense area covered and the conditions on the ground,” Solana said here Thursday.

Solana, who is the European Union foreign policy chief, visited Chad to see for himself the huge task faced by EU troops (EUFor) trying to protect civilians and aid workers near the border with Sudans Darfur.

The killing of the French country chief of Save The Children UK by gunmen last week just 9 km from a EUFor base pressed home the challenge posed to the modest European force, EU officials said in London.

EUFor has just over 2,200 troops in eastern Chad and northern Central African Republic, and is due to reach full strength of 3,700 by the end of June.

Various local rebel groups are active in eastern Chad, with frequent attacks by ethnic militias and bandits.

“EUFor will use armed force if necessary because its mandate allows for that,” he said.

The force began a year-long mandate in March.

During his brief stopover in CAR before arriving in Chad, Solana said he had reassured President Bozize that Europe would maintain its economic support for the deeply impoverished country, including a “vast development programme” for the remote region of Birao.

Proceeding to Chads capital NDjamena on Wednesday, Solana met President Idriss Deby, during which the duo discussed a peace deal Deby earlier signed with Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir in Senegal in March.

Many observers regretted that the Senegal agreement, latest in a line of accords, have generally failed to quell hostility between the two governments as Chad and Sudan continue to accuse each other of helping rebels in the border region.

However, the EU welcomes Debys decision last month to bring in political opponents into his government.

But rebels, who reached the capital NDjamena in a lightning offensive in February only to be repelled at the gates of Debys presidency by loyalists aided by French forces, rejected the broad-based government, described it as a ploy by Deby to divide opposition.

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African Press International – api

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