The Chadian government has said it will hold a national dialogue starting from August 20, a precursor to elections promised by interim president Mahamat Idriss Deby who ascended to power following his father’s death last year.
Deby, 38, declared himself head of a Transitional Military Council (TMC) in April 2021 after his father, Chad’s longtime ruler Idriss Deby, was killed while visiting troops fighting an armed uprising in the north.
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Initially, the council had said it would oversee an 18-month transition to democratic rule, but it has shown little sign of organising elections as that deadline nears.
Deby has presented the national dialogue as the first step towards planning a vote. It would, in theory, include armed groups but the conditions for their participation have not yet been agreed upon.
Pressure has started to grow from opposition groups within Chad, an ally of France and other Western countries in the fight against armed groups in Africa’s Sahel region, and bilateral partners to advance the transition process.
“It is the responsibility of the Transitional Military Council (TMC) to fulfil its commitments to the citizens of Chad, including that members of the TMC will not stand for future elections and that the TMC will adhere to a period of rapid transition, with democratic elections a mark of the TMC’s success,” said Ellen Thorburn, charge d’affaires of the US embassy in Chad, last week.
In March, peace talks in Qatar between Chad’s military government and dozens of opposition groups took place as a first step towards ending a rebellion and holding elections since the turmoil started with the killing of former leader Deby.
But then Chad’s TMC postponed a national dialogue that was set to take place in the country’s capital, N’Djamena, on May 10.
Former leader Deby ruled with an iron fist for nearly 30 years. He died during a visit to the battlefield where Chadian soldiers fought against a rebel group that had crossed into Sudan from Libya.