Chad. Disappearance of Ibni Oumar Mahamat Saleh : France once again compromised

Published on 5 September 2008 - Survie

Now that the so called Inquiry Commission into the consequences of the events which occurred in Chad from January 28 to February 8, 2008 has produced it’s report, the president of France Nicolas Sarkosy who called the commission into being can hardly claim satisfaction with the official findings which so obviously seek to whitewash the regime of Idriss Déby.

From the very outset of this affair, France played a double game: on the one hand our government aids and supplies the strong arm forces of Idriss Deby who then uses the convenient pretext of a renewed threat from armed elements to his regime to attack unarmed civilian opponents as well as other civic associations; on the other hand Sarkosy calls for an investigation into the disappearance of several political opponents consequent to the public outcry occasioned by their arrests.

Earlier this year on February 28, Survie issued a communiqué denouncing the partiality of the investigating commission presided by a crony of Deby, the president of the National Assembly and including the foreign relations ministers of Denis Sassou Nguesso (Congo Brazzaville) and Mouammar Kadhafi (Libya). A commission thus selected could hardly give satisfaction to the families of the victims or the community opposition groups.

Not surprisingly the commission’s findings rendered public on September 3 hardly clear up the disappearance of Ibni Oumar Mahamat Salah ( spokesman for the CPDC-coordination of all parties for the defense of democracy). The official report indicates that Ibni was arrested by “ the Forces of defense and security” who “committed grievous human rights violations and participated in the kidnappings of political personalities as well as ordinary citizens.” Furthermore the report confirms the existence of “secret prisons (...) where people are detained without any judicial control.” In other words the Chadian head of state is directly responsible for the exactions attributed to the military forces or the “State.”

Here the investigation stops, and all the people who should have been questioned by the commission do not appear anywhere: for example Ramdane Soulaiman-director of counter espionage at the National Security Agency or Adam Soulaiman-director of military intelligence service B2. Also avoided was the testimony of a certain French captain Daniel Goutte who according to the eye witness account of a fellow detainee, elected representative Ngarlejy Yorongar, was physically present during the removal of Ibni Saleh from his cell. Unknown to Yorongar was whether or not Ibni was still alive then. What is more the commission never even inspected the place of detention. Furthermore “two French army officers” advising Idriss Deby ( as indicated by Deby himself) during these events and likely to possess pertinent information were never confronted by the commission.

Nevertheless this investigation appears to satisfy “the International Francophone Organization (O.I.F.) and the local European Union observers from Germany and France who have congratulated the Inquiry Commission on the completion of their task and hailed the general quality and impartiality of the work accomplished, even if the entire truth about certain affaires was not forthcoming, notably the disappearance of opposition leader Ibni Oumar Mahamat Saleh [1].” Such a complacent attitude towards Idriss Deby obviously preludes the burial of this affair and extends further blank seeing to the Chadian regime.

In this context the French government, Chad’s unconditional ally, has once again turned a deaf ear to those calling for justice by refusing to face up to the crimes of her partner. If our president really wants to “support democratic governments in Africa” as recently proclaimed at the 17 Conference of Ambassadors he should start by dealing firmly with the regime of Idriss Deby.

Not sanctioning the present Chadian regime is an unacceptable stance tantamount to ignoring the continuing methods of intimidation by kidnappings and the “disappearance” of opponents which Idriss Deby has always employed to torpedo dialogue with political opponents and more recently to counter the civic initiatives taken in line with the accords of last August 2007 aiming for fair elections by 2009 [2]. Again the omnipresent, diplomatic influence of France [3] has forgone an important occasion to acknowledge the desire of the Chadian people for change, peace and normal government.

The actual situation calls for an International Independent Inquiry Commission empowered to determine the legal responsibilities of all those involved in this latest regime crisis and in particular that of Idriss Deby himself.

For the original version as well as documentary references and archive referrals from our French site click on

[1Communiqué of Sept 3, 2008

[2An agreement was signed August 3, 2007 between Deby’s majority group and the political opposition lead by Mol Mohamat Choua who was also arrested by the Chadian army and subsequently assigned to residence

[3During Sarkosy’s visit to Chad last February he argued that the political opposition parties could not “practice the politics of the empty chair” in reference to their refusal to participate in the follow up committee to the August agreements for as long as the disappearance of their leaders has yet to be elucidated

a lire aussi