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Sudan wins if a coup succeeds, an analyst says.
Published Feb. 4, 2008

As rebels in Chad fought for a second day to take control of the nation's capital, analysts said Sunday that the outcome of the attempted coup could have far-reaching implications for the Darfur conflict in neighboring Sudan.

Foreign observers said the military standoff remained unresolved. President Idriss Deby appeared to be holed up with a large force of loyal troops in his presidential palace in the capital, N'Djamena.

The aid group Doctors Without Borders reported that scores of civilians had been wounded, mostly from errant gunfire. Looting has been reported in N'Djamena, and the French government evacuated at least 500 foreigners.

Rebels claimed to have seized control of the town of Adre, along the eastern border with Sudan, while Chadian authorities said that the attackers had included Sudanese troops and had been repelled. Neither report could be verified.

A collapse of Deby's regime likely would be felt beyond Chad's borders. Deby has been a big supporter of Darfur rebels in western Sudan, and his fall would threaten to tilt the balance of power in Darfur toward the Sudanese government, which is backing the rebel assault under way in Chad.

"This could be a big win for Sudan," said Reed Brody, special counsel for Human Rights Watch, the international advocacy group. "The rebel alliance will be beholden to Khartoum. They will control one of the main access points and windows into Darfur."

Chad is host to about 250,000 Darfur refugees who fled violence in western Sudan over the past four years. Chad also serves as an important gateway for humanitarian groups, journalists, human rights activists and peacekeepers.

In addition, Darfur rebel groups use Chad as a haven and launching point for attacks against Sudanese government troops. Deby, who seized control of Chad through a coup in 1990, is from the same Zaghawa tribe as one of the main Darfur rebel movements.

A weakened Darfur rebel movement would complicate mediation talks between the Sudanese government and guerrillas to end a conflict that has killed about 200,000 people and displaced more than 2-million.

The rebels are led by disgruntled former government officials who defected from Deby's government after he amended the country's constitution to run for another term.