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Chad president agrees to international probe into abuse of power allegations

[JURIST] Chadian President Idriss Deby [official website, in French; BBC profile] agreed to an international investigation [statement, in French] into allegations of abuse of power during a meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy [BBC profile] Wednesday. The decision follows accusations [JURIST report] leveled by Amnesty International [advocacy website] that the government of Chad [JURIST news archive] is using the current state of emergency [JURIST report] to clamp down on journalists and members of peaceful opposition parties. Amnesty said that the government has arrested at least three opposition members [press release] and that some newspapers in Chad have ceased publishing due to potential censorship, with many journalists fleeing the country. During Sarkozy's one-day visit to Chad, Sarkozy also encouraged Deby to pardon six French aid workers convicted in Chad in December of attempting to kidnap [JURIST reports] 103 African children. Deby said earlier in February that he is prepared to pardon the French citizens [JURIST report]. AP has more.

Earlier this month, Deby declared a state of emergency [text, in French] throughout Chad, citing increased violence between government forces and rebels in the capital city of N'Djamena. The order bans most public meetings, imposes a curfew, authorizes government censorship of the press, and allows regional governments to regulate travel. The recent fighting in Chad is the most recent eruption of longstanding hostilities between the Chadian government and several rebel groups seeking to depose Deby. An estimated 20,000 civilians have fled the capital [NYT report] since violence escalated earlier this month. The UN Security Council has condemned the fighting [press release; JURIST report] and urged neighboring countries to help stop the rebel forces.

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