France to give asylum to Chad opposition leader
France will grant political asylum to Chadian opposition leader Ngarlejy Yorongar who fled his troubled African state after a government crackdown.
PARIS, March 5, 2008 - France will grant political asylum to Chadian
opposition leader Ngarlejy Yorongar who fled his troubled African state after
a government crackdown, French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said Tuesday.
"France has a tradition of asylum that is well known and political asylum
will be granted" to Yorongar, Fillon told French radio.
He added that "the question that we must ask is where are the opposition
figures who disappeared" during and after a failed rebel attack on the Chadian
capital Ndjamena in early February.
Yorongar turned up Monday in Yaounde, the capital of neighbouring Cameroon,
where one of his associates confirmed Tuesday that he would travel to Paris on
"He will express himself at greater length when he's in France," the source
Yorongar has given brief and few accounts of his detention since he was
arrested in Ndjamena on February 3 by President Idriss Deby Itno's
presidential guard and held in a "secret prison."
On February 21, he said, he was dumped in a cemetery, where a guard fired
two shots in his direction before departing. He later managed to make his way
Yorongar said Monday he would probably stay in Cameroon for less than two
days before seeking asylum in a third country.
Another opposition leader, Ibni Oumar Mahamat Saleh, is still missing. His
family say they have no news of him, while Chad's European partners and
Chadian and international rights organisations repeatedly express concern.
He and Yorongar were reportedly taken at the same time, shortly after three
rebel groups crossed the country from bases in Sudan's Darfur region and
launched a two-day attack on Ndjamena.
The attack was beaten back by government troops with French military help
that did not extend to direct intervention.
The disappearance of the opposition leaders coincided with a crackdown by
Deby loyalists in the wake of the attempted coup. This hardline response, with
a state of emergency and media censorship, has led to international criticism.
During a visit to Chad last week by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Deby
announced a probe into the disappearance of the opposition leaders and into
the rebel assault.
Lawyers for the opposition leaders on Monday rejected the inquiry, since it
was headed by a Deby aide and member of his party.
Human Right Watch, based in New York, said Wednesday that "the government
took Ibni into custody and the government should produce him", after carrying
out an inquiry of its own.
The organisation said in a statement that the probe "heralded by French
President Nicolas Sarkozy ... lacks credibility... President Deby has pulled
the wool over President Sarkozy's eyes."
The non-armed opposition in the central African state and Chadian rebels
have criticised French support for Deby.
Chad remains under a state of emergency until March 15, allowing for house
searches by security forces and a media crackdown.