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'Peace talks with Boko Haram still ongoing'

04 November 2014, 17:28

N’djamena - Chad's President Idriss Deby, said on Tuesday in N’djamena, that the peace talks between Nigerian Government and the Boko Haram are still on track.

He said the talk was in progress in spite of a recently released video that showed Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau saying the Chibok girls had been "married off" to his fighters.

Deby said the statement contradicted the earlier meeting and announcement of a deal to release them.

He said backing the peace talks between Nigeria's government and Islamist Boko Haram insurgents, has become imperative because of his country's own security.

Deby said the Boko Haram rebels, whose five-year revolt has killed thousands and caused mayhem in the northeast of Nigeria, have been threatening Chad's own frontiers and disrupting cross-border trade.

"With jihadist fighters prowling Libya's deserts to the north, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb active in the west, and rebels and janjaweed militia battling in Sudan's Darfur region to its east, Chad already finds itself in the eye of the storm,’’ he said.

A senior Chadian diplomat, said the country has a huge interest in resolving the talks.

He said Boko Haram's activities in the porous frontier around Lake Chad were difficult to control.

"We're worried that they'll come here next."

Ryan Cummings, Chief Analyst at Crisis Management Group Red 24, said the reason for Chadian involvement was as a result of the country's posturing as a regional hegemony.

He said every opportunity must be used to defuse the threat from the Nigerian militant group whose centre of activity in Nigeria's northeast Borno State was menacingly less than 100 km from the Chadian capital.

A security source in Chad working for an international organization, said a couple of months ago the agency talked about sleeper cells of Boko Haram in the lake region.

He said as at this moment we can't say that any more because they have started waking up.

He said in recent months, Chad has changed its attitude to Boko Haram, as the Chadian forces are stepping up surveillance and have made several arrests.

He said government has also pledged 700 troops for a cross-border force in the Lake Chad region to counter the group, due to start operations this month.

The source noted that France, which uses N'Djamena as a base for its Operation Barkhane against jihadists in the Sahel, was also monitoring Boko Haram activities in Nigeria and assists the Chadian army.

Traders across the boarders said their livelihoods have been affected by the drop in commerce with northern Nigeria and Cameroon.

Also read: Boko Haram 'ceasefire' in doubt after attacks

Abdullah Mega, a 30-year-old shopkeeper in N'Djamena said a seven-vehicle convoy carrying his shipment of appliances was robbed and torched on the road from the northeastern Nigerian town of Maiduguri last year.

He says that he has started importing merchandise from Dubai instead, but complains the extra costs are crushing his margins.

"Nigeria is an extension of our own house and that's the room where we can make the profits," he said.

Cattle trading, the second biggest business for Chad after oil has also been hurt by the deterioration in security.

Ali Baigou, Head of Herders Union, said its members lost more than 8 000 cattle in two Boko Haram attacks in August in northern Nigeria as they headed to a regional market.

He said he prayed the ceasefire agreement would workout well.

"The government should stand up against the insurgencies," he said.

- Reuters


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