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Tight cash could limit fight against terrorism - Idriss Deby warns

BY: Zadok Kwame Gyesi
• Chad President Idriss Deby
• Chad President Idriss Deby

Chad's president, Idriss Deby, an important Western ally in the fight against Islamist militants, has warned  that cash-strapped Chad could be forced to withdraw some of its troops from the fight if it does not get financial help.

Chad has one of the most capable armies in the region and President Deby has played a key role in efforts backed by the West to combat neighbouring Nigeria's Islamic State-affiliated Boko Haram fighters, as well as al Qaeda.

Chad has in recent years sent troops to fight militants in Nigeria, Niger, Cameroun and Mali.

"Chad is a small country with no financial means which has known huge problems in its recent history. It is the duty of those who have more means to help it," President

Deby told RFI-TV5-Le Monde in a joint interview released on Sunday.

"Apart from intelligence from time to time, training, since our intervention in Mali, Cameroun, Nigeria, Niger, we have not been helped financially. Chad spent out of its own resources over 300 billion CFA francs ($512 million) in the fight against terrorism without any external help," he said.

A former French colony, Chad also hosts the headquarters of France's 3,000-troop regional anti-militant operation, known as Barkhane.

Asked if he was disappointed by his Western allies, he said:

"I am absolutely certain that Chadians are disappointed and think Chad did too much, that it must withdraw from these theaters to protect itself... We reached our limits... If nothing is done, Chad will unfortunately be forced to withdraw."

Asked about a timetable for a possible withdrawal, he said: "I think end-2017, early 2018, if this situation was to continue, Chad would no longer be able to keep as many soldiers outside its territory. Some of our soldiers should gradually return to the country," he said.