France could only intervene in Chad with UN mandate

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France would only provide direct military support to the embattled regime of Chadian President Idriss Deby if it had a UN mandate to do so

   PARIS, Feb 5, 2008 - France would only provide direct military
support to the embattled regime of Chadian President Idriss Deby if it had a
UN mandate to do so, Defence Minister Herve Morin said Monday.
   "The cooperation agreement (between France and Chad) does not allow for
French armed forces to intervene in any case," Morin told RTL radio.
   "The other context that could allow a larger-scale intervention by the
French armed forces would be within the possible framework of a United Nations
Security Council resolution."
   "France has no place taking part in combat that does not fall within a
legal framework," Morin said.
   Thousands of civilians fled the Chadian capital on Monday, as rebels
threatened a fresh offensive to oust Deby after two days of heavy fighting saw
them pull out of the city.
   In New York, the UN Security Council unanimously agreed a non-binding
statement, drafted by former colonial power France, condemning the rebel
attacks and urging member states to extend support to the government.
   The unrest has left Paris in a delicate position as it tries to salvage a
European peacekeeping mission for Darfur refugees and prevent its forces from
being drawn into combat.
   France has 1,450 troops based in Chad and Paris sent an extra 150 troops to
help evacuate foreigners to neighbouring Gabon and on to Paris.
   Military cooperation accords between France and Chad cover logistical,
medical and intelligence support for Deby's regime, but not direct military
intervention.
   An armed forces spokesman said earlier that French troops exchanged fire
with Chadian rebels Saturday near Ndjamena airport, where France was
overseeing the evacuation of hundreds of foreigners.
   Major Christophe Prazuck said there had been a "brief and limited contact"
between French troops and the rebels as they launched their assault on the
capital.
   The spokesman said the rebels had fired at French troops, who "responded
appropriately" with a view to defending the airport.
   He added however that it was impossible to say for certain if the rebel
shots were fired accidentally, or if they were intended to "test" French
defences at the airport.
   Two of the six French Mirage F1 fighter jets stationed in the country,
which were pulled out of Ndjamena on Sunday, have returned to the city and
resumed reconnaissance flights in the area, the spokesman said.

AFP 

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