More than 20 Chadian rebel groups have suspended their participation in negotiations taking place in the Qatari capital, Doha, accusing the Chad’s military government of destabilising peace efforts.
Their decision on Saturday came a few hours after interim President Mohamad Idris Deby decided to set the date of the dialogue for August 20, a move that angered the rebels who accuse the government of trying to exclude them from the event.
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.
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. Rebel groups were invited, but they agreed to participate only if certain conditions were met before the talks. This led to the so-called “pre-dialogue”, which has been taking place in Doha.
The success of the pre-talks is seen as crucial for the national dialogue to be inclusive and effective. But after nearly four months, they have not produced a final document.
“It takes two to negotiate, both to make peace and war,” Adoum Yacoub, head of one of the main groups FPRN (Popular Front for National Renaissance), said on Monday during a press conference. “For the moment, we find ourselves alone,” he noted, adding that exchanges with the government’s delegation have almost never been direct since talks started nearly four months ago.
In a statement on Saturday, a number of rebel groups had accused the government’s delegation of “harassments, intimidation, threats and disinformation”.
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.
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.