French correspondent forced to leave Chad

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French journalist Sonia Rolley was forced to leave Chad after the government withdrew her work permit.

   PARIS, March 24, 2008 (AFP) - French journalist Sonia Rolley, who reported
for Agence France-Presse and other international news organisations, was
forced to leave Chad after the government withdrew her work permit.
   Rolley, 27, who also worked for Radio France Internationale, was told last
month that she could no longer report from Ndjamena after a state of emergency was imposed on February 2.
   Her press accreditation was not returned after the state of emergency was
lifted on March 15 and the government has not given reasons for her expulsion.
   Rolley's accreditation has been withdrawn "definitively," Chadian
Communications Minister and government spokesman Hourmadji Moussa Doumgor told AFP earlier this week. 
   The French foreign ministry said it "regretted" the decision.
   "We intervened several times at various levels with the Chadian authorities
to dissuade them from making a decision leading to the departure of Madame
Sonia Rolley," said a foreign ministry spokeswoman.
   She declined to comment when asked if the move would have implications for
relations between the two countries.
   AFP director of information Denis Hiault sent a letter of protest to the
communications minister, saying the decision was "unjustified" and that Rolley
had "shown professionalism, rigour and objectivity in her work."
   It was the second letter of protest sent by Hiault to the Chadian
government requesting that Rolley's accreditation be renewed.
   A French national, Rolley had been working in Chad since October 23, 2006
after covering Rwanda and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo for AFP and RFI.
   President Nicolas Sarkozy had raised Rolley's case during a brief visit to
Ndjamena on February 27.
   "I said to the Chadian authorities very clearly that it would be an
extremely disastrous signal, the expulsion of a journalist," said Sarkozy. "I
asked that this not be the case."
   RFI said in a statement that it deplored the decision and underscored that
Rolley had "always covered Chadian news with rigour and professionalism, in
conditions that were at times very difficult."
   Troops loyal to Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno pushed back an attack in
early February by rebels backed by Sudan. French troops provided fuel, food,
aerial intelligence and Libyan ammunition to the Chadian army.


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