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Chad rebels ready to 'observe ceasefire'

The FACT rebel group, which has been accused of killing President Idriss Deby, says it's willing to discuss a political settlement. The new ruling military government, however, has refused to negotiate.

Chadian Army members are seen during an operation against rebels in Ziguey

Chad's military launched an operation against FACT on Saturday

Rebels in Chad, accused by the military of killing ruler Idriss Deby Itno, are ready to "observe a ceasefire," a spokesman said on Sunday.

Deby's death pushed the central African country into political turmoil as the rebels strongly opposed his son's seizing of power.

The rebels, known as the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), traveled over Chad's northern border from Libya on April 11, calling for an end to Deby's 30-year rule.

Watch video 02:25

Slain Chad president's son takes reins of power

Chad's new ruling junta, however, refused to negotiate with the rebels. 

"The time is not for mediation, nor for negotiation with outlaws," Azem Bermandoa Agouna, spokesman of the military council, said in a statement. 

A day earlier, the military said it bombarded the rebels "to the verge of despair" to stop their advancement on the city.

FACT had advanced as close as 200-300 kilometers (125-185 miles) from the capital, N'Djamena. 

What did On FACT say? 

"We have affirmed our availability to observe a truce, a ceasefire ... but this morning we were bombarded again", Mahamat Mahadi Ali, head of FACT, told AFP late Saturday. 

"We cannot respect the truce unilaterally. A truce must be made on both sides. We will not fold our arms and let ourselves be massacred," he added.

Another spokesman confirmed the group's intentions to Reuters. 

"FACT is ready to observe a ceasefire for a political settlement that respects the independence and sovereignty of Chad and does not endorse a coup d'etat," FACT spokesman Kingabe Ogouzeimi de Tapol told Reuters on Sunday.

What happened in Chad? 

The military said Deby died fighting FACT rebels. 

The new ruling military council, headed by Deby's son, Mahamat Idriss Deby, took power after Deby's death, vowing to oversee an 18-month transition to elections. 

Opposition politicians called the power grab a coup, and FACT said it would not support a "monarchy." 

Activists have called for peaceful protests and a national dialogue to end the crisis. 

On Friday, France and other allies voiced support for Mahamat Deby during his father's funeral.

The slain president was a key partner to Western powers in counterterrorism operations in the region. 

Watch video 01:57

Chad holds funeral for slain president Idriss Deby

President Emmanuel Macron said: "France will never let anyone, either today or tomorrow, challenge Chad's stability and integrity."

He also called on the military government to foster "stability, inclusion, dialogue, democratic transition."

fb/mm (AFP, Reuters) 

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