Chadian military government and rebel groups sign pledge during talks with Qatar | News | DW

The military government and more than 40 rebel groups in Chad on Monday signed in Doha, Qatar, a commitment to a ceasefire ahead of talks scheduled later this month in Chad’s capital N’Djamena.

National reconciliation talks are scheduled for August 20. Prior to these talks, the Chadian military government pledged “not to conduct any military or police operations against the signatory groups” in Chad’s neighboring countries.

Mahamat Zene Cherif, foreign minister in the interim military government, said more than 1,500 representatives would attend the talks, which he hoped would lead to a lasting peace.

“This inclusive national dialogue is a forum for all Chadian people,” Cherif said.

What happened during the signing ceremony?

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani told attendees of the ceremony that “other groups will join the march of reconciliation and peace, with a view to realizing the aspirations and dreams of the Chadian people”.

“The initial peace agreement we are celebrating today will be an important turning point towards stability and prosperity for the people of Chad,” Al Thani said.

In a video message released ahead of the signing ceremony, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the event was “a key moment for the Chadian people”, but noted that future talks should be “inclusive ” for success to be achieved.

Twenty rebel groups walked out of the talks in July, accusing Mahamat Idriss Deby, the 38-year-old son of the late president who now leads a military government, of “harassment, intimidation, threats and disinformation”.

Rebel groups have called on Deby not to stand in a possible election, while the military government has said only national reconciliation talks could resolve the contentious dispute. Monday’s pledge did not include anything on whether Deby could or should run for president.

Diplomatic observers said it would be a race to usher in a democratic transfer of power by holding elections before the October deadline. Deby took power in April 2021, following fighting with rebel groups.

Details on monitoring and enforcement were not part of the document signed in Doha on Monday.

What might hinder the success of the engagement?

The largest rebel group in Chad, the Front for Change and Concord in Chad, did not participate. Known by its French acronym, FACT, he was blamed for the death of former president Idriss Deby Itno in 2021. He had been in power since 1990 and, according to Chadian authorities, died while commanding troops on the front line.

FACT’s absence from the table puts the deal in immediate jeopardy, as it is unclear whether any commitments made without their participation can hold. There is, however, some hope that the 18-month transition from military rule is coming to an end.

Talks officials said 42 of the 47 groups that participated would sign the agreement.

FACT said in a statement before the ceremony that it “rejects the agreement which will be submitted to signatories on Monday”, calling for a new committee to organize new talks and saying that participants in the national dialogue would not be treated on a Equality.

“However, FACT remains available for dialogue anywhere and anytime,” the band said.

Thirty years of rule by Deby’s father led to unrest and the formation of fragmented rebel groups.

The former French colony – bordered by Cameroon, Central African Republic, Libya, Niger, Nigeria and Sudan – sits in an insecure neighborhood with porous borders. Many rebel groups have found shelter and common cause by operating across national borders.

ar/msh (AFP, AP, Reuters)