ABUJA, May 11 (Reuters) - Chad’s President Idriss Deby said on Monday in Nigeria’s capital Abuja that the fight against islamist Boko Haram insurgents was being hindered by failure of the two countries’ troops to work together.
He said there were plans to form a rapid response force for the African Union from troops of the four countries around the Lake Chad basin - Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Nigeria’s outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan, Deby said he was disappointed that a joint agreement with Nigeria was not working.
“It is regrettable that the two armies, that is the Nigerian army and the Chadian Army, are working separately in the field... If they were operating jointly, they would have achieved more results,” President Deby said.
Having defeated al Qaeda in Mali two years ago, Chad’s military believes it could finish off Boko Haram alone. It has notched up victories that have pushed the Nigerian militants back from the Cameroonian border.
Islamist militant group Boko Haram seized control of a swathe of northeast Nigeria last year, killing thousands in an unprecedented land grab while increasing incursions on neighbouring countries.
Nigeria has managed to roll back most of the group’s gains since the start of the year with the help of offensives launched by Chad and Niger into Nigerian territory while Cameroon has repeatedly repelled attacks on its border towns.
Deby said that he did not know where Boko Haram’s elusive leader Abubakar Shekau was hiding. Earlier this year, Deby threatened the militant chief by saying he knew where he was hiding.
“I cannot tell you today that I know where Shekau is hiding and even if I knew I wouldn’t tell you,” he said. (Reporting By Felix Onuah, Writing by Julia Payne; Editing by Hugh Lawson)