DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – Chad’s military government and some rebel groups signed a pledge in Qatar on Monday ahead of planned national reconciliation talks, although the country’s main opposition group was not involved in the deal.
Under the terms of the deal in Doha, the signatories have agreed to a ceasefire ahead of talks scheduled for August 20 in the Chadian capital of N’Djamena. Chad’s junta also agreed not to “undertake military or police operations against the signatory groups” in neighboring countries.
However, Chad’s Front for Change and Concord, the main rebel group in the country, has not signed the pledge. The shadowy group, known by the French acronym FACT, is blamed for the 2021 assassination of Chad’s longtime president, Idriss Deby Itno.who has ruled the country since 1990.
That immediately raised the question of whether the deal would be enough to ensure the success of the talks, as a planned 18-month transition from military rule to democracy is coming to an end.
FACT did not immediately publicly comment on its decision not to sign the pledge.
We hope that “other groups will join the march of reconciliation and peace, with a view to fulfilling the aspirations and dreams of the Chadian people,” Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani told attendees for the signing ceremony. “The first peace agreement we celebrate today will be a major turning point toward stability and prosperity for the Chadian people.”
“It is no secret that the negotiations faced many challenges that were addressed by your estimated efforts,” Sheikh Mohammed added.
Those challenges include some 20 rebel groups who withdrew from talks in July, accusing the military government under Deby’s 38-year-old son, Mahamat Idriss Deby, of “harassment, intimidation, threats and misinformation” during the negotiations.
Rebels have called on Deby to declare that he will not participate in the upcoming elections, although the military junta has insisted that this can only be decided in national dialogue talks. The pledge signed in Qatar on Monday does not include a ban on Deby’s participation in an upcoming vote.
Chad had become frustrated with Deby’s father’s 30-year rule, which led to years of rebel uprisings in the former French colony bordering Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Libya, Niger, Nigeria and Sudan. Chadian rebels have hidden over the border due to unrest in the surrounding countries.
Associated Press writer Isabel DeBre in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.