Chad recognizes rebels in neighboring Libya

Chad on Wednesday recognized the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) as the only legitimate authority in neighboring Libya.

"Chad recognizes the National Transitional Council as the only legitimate authority of the Libyan people," foreign ministry secretary general Moussa Dago said.

He was speaking in the presence of six NTC officials who met President Idriss Deby Itno on Monday.

Dago said Deby had urged the rebel administration to protect the large Chadian community in Libya. At least 74,000 Chadians crossed back into their country from Libya since the crisis began there six months ago.

With Libya's rebels controlling most of the country but Moammarr Qaddafi giving them the slip and vowing fight back, Dago urged the warring parties to exercise restraint and spare civilians.

"Chad is preoccupied by the potential consequences of a protracted crisis in this country and calls on both sides to show restraint," he said.

Chad shares a large border with Libya and could be one of the region's countries most affected by political turmoil in Libya.

Qaddafi, who eyed a large swathe of Chadian land after seizing power in 1969 before dropping the claim in the nineties, had rocky relations with former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre.

But Deby has had good relations with Qaddafi, who hosted and trained him when he fell out with Habre, and more recently was instrumental in a peace deal between the Chadian government and several rebel groups.

-AFP/NOW Lebanon

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