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Chad Closed Radio Station, Used Swiss Plane for Wounded, Zoe's Ark Pardon Being Considered

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, February 26 -- Chad's President Deby, who so recently survived a coup attempt with the support of France, will now consider pardoning the French staff of Zoe's Ark, Chad's Foreign Minister Ahmad Allam-Mi told Inner City Press on Tuesday, while denying any quid pro quo. They were convicted of kidnapping children from Chad under the false claim that they were orphans, and are now serving eight year prison terms not in Chad but in France. Chad sentenced them to hard labor but, Minister Allam-Mi said, that is just a matter of an "old code" that has not been amended to conform with Chad's signature of international agreements. Deby has been busy fending off a coup. Allam-Mi joked, "I trust we find in the archives the file" of Zoe's Ark. Video here, from Minute 35:47 until cut off at 38:55 after reference to French president Sarkozy.

            Inner City Press asked about Chad's use a Swiss plane in its fight with Sudan, and about a human rights worker and radio station manager on the run. The Chadian radio station FM Liberte "was shut down, that is true," Allam-Mi said. But, he pointed out, that was before the coup attempt -- not after. Inner City Press asked if the station will be allowed to re-open. The answer was a reference to a case of defamation. Video here, from Minute 17:27.

Pilatus PC-9: bombs away?

            Regarding Swiss government accusations from that Chad used a Pilatus PC-9 plane it imported from Switzerland as part of its military campaign in The Sudan, Allam-Mi called this "propaganda," an internal fight in Switzerland between majority and opposition. He said that the plane is only used for reconnaissance and "transporting the wounded." Of Switzerland he said, "they can come and verify." We'll see.

Chadian foreign minister Allam-Mi and Ban Ki-moon, Feb. 26, 2008

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

Because a number of Inner City Press' UN sources go out of their way to express commitment to serving the poor, and while it should be unnecessary, Inner City Press is compelled to conclude this installment in a necessarily-ongoing series by saluting the stated goals of the UN agencies and many of their staff. Keep those cards, letters and emails coming, and phone calls too, we apologize for any phone tag, but please continue trying, and keep the information flowing.

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