Chad leader 'in total control'

From the Associated Press

Chad's president declared himself in control of the country Wednesday, though he acknowledged that three-fourths of his government had disappeared since rebels attacked this capital last week.

For the first time since the assault began, more people were crossing bridges toward N'Djamena than away, apparently heeding a government call to return. Government forces pushed rebels out of the capital after weekend battles that left hundreds dead and sent thousands fleeing.

President Idriss Deby wore a military uniform as he received reporters in the presidential palace to make his first public comments since the coup attempt.

He denied reports that he had been injured, spreading his arms wide and saying, "Look at me, I'm fine."

"We are in total control, not only of the capital, but of all the country," Deby said after meeting with the French defense minister, who came to Chad in a show of support.

But he suggested his government had been weakened. "I am working with less than a quarter of the members of my government. I do not know where the rest have gone."

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