Mahamat Mahdi Ali: the Chad rebel leader targeted by France


The veteran Chad leader Idriss Déby Itno, a close ally of France for many years, died in April, reportedly after being wounded on the battlefield fighting against an armed rebel group in the country. That group is the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), led by a man called Mahamat Mahdi Ali. The rebel leader has close links with France; he spent part of his life here and his family still lives in Reims, north east of Paris. He was also a member of the Socialist Party before he says he was “betrayed” by his former comrades when they were in government; he was subject to financial sanctions from the authorities in Paris over what he says are unfounded claims of links to terrorist groups. Some observers see the targeting of Mahamat Mahdi Ali as a favour by the authorities in Paris to the Déby regime, which has been a stalwart supporter of France's anti-terrorism strategy in the region. Rémi Carayol reports.

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Some claim he is located at Sebha in the Fezzan, a largely desert region of south-west Libya. He himself prefers to remain discreet about his exact whereabouts, and simply says he is in a difficult predicament and needs to keep on the move in the border territories of Chad, Niger and Libya to avoid being “located”. Located, he says, by the French intelligence services in particular.