Chad President Forms Panel to Discuss Oil Company Deals

N'DJAMENA Aug 30, 2006 (AP)

President Idriss Deby has formed a commission to re-negotiate agreements with oil companies, his spokesman said Wednesday.

Deby signed a decree late Tuesday forming the commission, presidential spokesman Dieudonne Djonabaye said.

He declined to give details, but said a report in Le Progres newspaper was correct. The newspaper said the National Assembly speaker would chair the 21-member commission comprised of government officials, lawmakers, trade unionists and others.

The commission led by Nassour Guelengdouksia will report regularly to Prime Minister Pascal Yoadimnadji on the various stages of the negotiations, the newspaper reported, citing Deby's decree.

No deadlines have been reported in the newspaper.

The secretary general of Deby's Patriotic Salvation Movement party, Mahamat Hissene, owns Le Progres.

A delegation from Malaysia is expected to visit Chad soon to discuss a tax dispute, Djonabaye told The Associated Press.

"That negotiation has nothing to do with the re-negotiation of the oil agreements...Those are two different matters," Djonabaye said, when asked whether there was any link between the Malaysian delegation's visit and the president's decree.

Deby ordered Malaysia's Petronas and U.S. Chevron Corp. (CVX) ordered out of the country last week after he claimed the oil giants failed to settle a $450 million tax bill.

Chevron Corp. also has said it has met all its tax obligations in Chad, while its partner in Chad, Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM), remains in good standing with Deby's administration.

Berlin-based Transparency International ranked Chad the most corrupt on its 2005 corruption perceptions list, and said the expulsion order could erode investor confidence for its much-needed foreign investment even further.

Copyright (c) 2006 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.