N’DJAMENA (AFP) – Chad announced it is closing its border with the Central African Republic on Monday, saying it wants to stop violence spilling over from the sectarian conflict next door.
“We will not allow the Chadian territory to be used by one side or the other to wreak havoc in this brotherly country,” said government spokesman Hassan Sylla Bakari.
It comes a day after President Idriss Deby vowed to shut the border during a visit to the southeast of the country.
“You are less than 20 metres from the border with CAR,” Deby said in the town of Daha on Sunday. “Know that from today our border with this country is hermetically sealed.
“All Chadians that want to return to his home with his belongings, we will grandly open the border to them. But apart from these precise cases, no one is authorised to cross this border until the Central African crisis is resolved,” he added.
“Hermetically” sealing the border will pose a major challenge for the government given that it stretches across 1,000 kilometres of remote terrain.
The border closure is a way of silencing critics who have accused the government in N’Djamena of allowing — or even encouraging — Chadian militants to cross the border and exacerbate the violence in CAR.
“We have been the object of unfair and unfounded criticisms and we have decided to close the borders so that Chad is not embroiled in what is happening in this country,” said Bakari.
Chad, which has significant political and military influence in CAR, already pulled out its peacekeeping forces in April after claims its soldiers had opened fire on civilians the previous month.
Chad has also been accused of ties to the Seleka rebels that seized power for 10 months in March 2013, triggering a cycle of ethnic and religiously motivated violence across the country in which thousands have died and tens of thousands have been forced to flee.