(Recasts with state of emergency extended, adds details)
By Betel Miarom
N’DJAMENA, Oct 26 (Reuters) - Chad extended a state of emergency in its violent east on Friday, a day after a ceasefire accord signed with rebel groups which President Idriss Deby said was a last chance for peace.
Deby’s government declared the emergency last week along its eastern border with Sudan’s Darfur and in its remote desert north after ethnic violence that killed at least 20 people.
Chad’s parliament voted on Friday to extend the state of emergency for 45 days. The measure gives local governors 24-hour search and arrest powers and the authority to restrict movement of people and vehicles, meetings and media coverage.
The extension showed Deby’s government remained concerned about security on its eastern border, despite a ceasefire accord signed in Libya on Thursday with four rebel groups which have fought an anti-Deby guerrilla war for more than two years.
Thursday’s Libyan-brokered peace deal foresees an immediate ceasefire, release of prisoners and the creation of a committee to integrate rebel figures into Chadian state structures.
One of the rebel leaders who signed, Mahamat Nouri, objected to government demands that the rebels disarm before being reintegrated into the national army.
While Deby expressed hope that the accord would bring peace to his landlocked oil-producing country, he recalled that many past peace deals had been signed without effect.
"I think this is the last accord, really the last, that the government signs with an opposition ... and I think it’s the last time Chad will allow a neighbouring country to arm Chadians to fight Chadians," he told Radio France International in Sirte, Libya, in comments broadcast on Friday.
He added: "(If) any country in the future ... seeks to arm Chadians against the Chadian government ... we will enter directly into war against that country, not against Chadians."
This appeared to be a stern warning to Sudan, which Chad has long accused of supporting anti-Deby Chadian insurgents.
These accusations by Chad — repeatedly denied by Sudan — brought the two neighbours to the point of outright war several times. Mediation by neighbouring Libya led to several bilateral peace deals that failed to halt rebel raids and border clashes.
EU PEACEKEEPING FORCE
Deby, who himself seized power in a revolt from the east in 1990, is accused by foes of ruling corruptly and favouring his own ethnic Zaghawa clan.
Besides Deby, Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi witnessed the signing of the latest peace accord.
On Saturday, Libya is due to host peace talks between Sudan’s government and some rebel groups from Darfur, where political and ethnic conflict has increasingly pushed refugees, rebels and militia raiders into Chad.
In a few weeks’ time, a European Union peacekeeping force is due to deploy in eastern Chad.
The rebel groups who signed the peace accord were Nouri’s Union of Forces for Democracy and Development (UFDD); the Assembly of Forces of Change (RFC), led by Timan Erdimi; the Chadian National Concord (CNT); and the UFDD-Fundamental.
Nouri told RFI that while he hoped for peace, doubts remained over issues like disarmament and reintegration.
"Everyone interprets the document in their own way ... Why disarm one side if our fighters are supposed to become part of the national army?" he said.