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Chad commits to fight against Boko Haram

Chad’s parliament, Wednesday voted to stay engaged in a regional offensive that it joined earlier this year against Boko Haram Islamists.

The parliament had in January authorised its government to send troops into neighbouring Nigeria and Cameroon, part of an offensive aimed at expelling the rebel group from north-eastern Nigeria.

“The National Assembly authorises the extension of Chad’s military intervention in Nigeria and Cameroon,” read Wednesday’s resolution voted by 123 out of 140 MPs in the central African nation.

Chad’s constitution says the government must seek parliamentary approval four months into any military intervention.

“It is important that the work we started succeeds,” said Benaindo Tatola, a junior minister in charge of defence, without specifying a timeline for the offensive.

Chadian military sources say 5,000 of the country’s troops are engaged in the fight against the Islamist radicals in Nigeria and northern Cameroon, which has come under repeated Boko Haram attack for two years.

In April, Chad condemned the deaths of 71 of its troops less than three months into the campaign against the militants, whose six-year insurgency has claimed about 13,000 lives and displaced about 1.5 million people.

During a visit to Nigeria last week, Chad’s President Idriss Deby called for better coordination with Abuja.

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan is keen to announce that the militants have been cleared from the northeast before he leaves office at the end of the month.

But experts have warned against any premature declaration of victory, with the root causes of the conflict, particularly chronic social and economic deprivation in the region, yet to be addressed.

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