DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Chad’s junta and some rebel groups signed a pledge in Qatar on Monday to prepare for planned national reconciliation talks, but the agreement did not include the country’s main opposition group.
Under the terms of the Doha agreement, the signatories have agreed to a ceasefire ahead of talks scheduled for August 20 in the Chad capital N’Djamena. Chad’s junta also agreed to “refrain from any military or police action against signatory groups” in neighboring countries.
However, Chad’s Front for Change and Concord, the country’s main rebel group, did not sign the pledge.The mysterious group, known by its French acronym FACT, has been blamed for the 2021 killing of longtime Chad president Idris Deby Itnohas ruled the country since 1990.
That immediately calls into question whether the deal will be enough to ensure the success of the talks, as the planned 18-month transition from military rule to democracy draws to a close.
FACT did not immediately comment publicly on its decision not to sign the pledge.
We hope that “other groups will join the ranks of reconciliation and peace in order to realize the aspirations and dreams of the people of Chad,” Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani told those gathered at the signing ceremony. People say. “The preliminary peace agreement we are celebrating today will be an important turning point for the people of Chad towards stability and prosperity.”
Sheikh Mohammed added: “It is no secret that the negotiations face many challenges that have been addressed through your estimated efforts.”
The challenges included the withdrawal of some 20 rebel groups from talks in July, accusing the junta of “harassment, intimidation, threats and disinformation” in the talks, led by Deby’s 38-year-old son, Mohammad Idriss Deby.
The rebels have called on Deby to announce that he will not run in any upcoming elections, although the junta insists this can only be decided in national dialogue talks. The pledge signed in Qatar on Monday did not include a ban on Deby from any upcoming votes.
Chad’s frustration with Deby’s father’s 30-year rule led to a multi-year rebellion in the former French colony bordering Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Libya, Niger, Nigeria and Sudan. Unrest in neighboring countries has led Chadian rebels to escape the border.
Associated Press writer Isabel DeBre in Dubai, United Arab Emirates contributed to this report.