By Nick Tattersall
DAKAR, July 2 (Reuters) - Chadian rebels fighting a hit-and-run guerrilla war against President Idriss Deby said on Monday failure to clinch a deal at peace talks in Tripoli would mean a return to all-out hostilities.
Libya brokered the talks to try to end an insurgency by a coalition of rebels fighting government forces in eastern Chad, a huge swathe of barren savannah also struggling to cope with a spillover of the conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region.
Makaila Nguebla, a spokesman for the rebel Union of Forces for Democracy and Development (UFDD), said talks with a government delegation had been suspended while Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi attended an African Union summit in Ghana.
"We are waiting for Colonel Gaddafi to return because he is the sole mediator, he is the one who initiated these talks," Nguebla, who is based in Senegal’s capital Dakar, told Reuters.
"We are waiting for him to put pressure on Idriss Deby either to accept our conditions or not to accept them. If he doesn‘t, then at least we will have shown the world that we were ready to work for peace," he said.
But Nguebla said the rebels were prepared to return to all-out war if the talks in Tripoli failed to end in agreement and criticised the international community for focusing on neighbouring Darfur but ignoring the crisis within Chad.
"We will not hesitate to make war. Our grievances have never been taken into consideration at an international level. At the African Union summit lots of questions are being discussed without any regard for the Chadian question," Nguebla said.
"We hold a territory, we hold arms, and nobody is prepared to stop and look at what is going wrong in eastern Chad."
It was not immediately possible to reach the Chadian government delegation.
DEBY‘S SON FOUND DEAD
The rebels want Deby to agree to a national political dialogue that would lead to a transitional administration to steer the country towards early free elections. They also want the constitution amended to prevent presidents ruling for life.
A former French-trained helicopter pilot, Deby seized power in oil-producing Chad in 1990, leading rebels in a lightning offensive launched from across the border in Sudan.
He amended the constitution in 2005, removing a two-term limit for heads of state and an age limit of 70 for presidential candidates, clearing the way for his re-election last year in polls boycotted as unfair by opponents.
Deby’s son Brahim, widely disliked but seen as his father’s choice of successor, was found dead on Monday in the underground parking lot of a building he lived in near Paris, the latest blow to the strength of the ruling Zaghawa ethnic clan.
Deby’s apparent grooming of Brahim had caused a split in the family, with elder members viewing him as unfit to govern. He was forced to sack Brahim as his adviser last June after he was arrested in Paris for possessing an illegal firearm and drugs.
Many Chadians believe it was Brahim’s divisive presence that led to a spate of desertions by Deby’s advisers, including two of his own nephews who abandoned him to join the rebel ranks.
"Brahim’s death changes the morale of his father," Nguebla said. "The morale of the family is completely destabilised."
Deby’s representatives could not be reached for comment. French investigators have not determined the cause of death.