A jailed Chadian rebel has been pardoned by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and released from prison, his brother and Chad’s government have said.
Tom Erdimi, the twin brother of Union of Resistance Forces (UFR) leader Timan Erdimi, was released on Tuesday after several months’ imprisonment in Egypt.
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He should return to Chad “at the end of the week”, his brother told the AFP news agency on Wednesday.
The Erdimi brothers, nephews of former Chadian President Idriss Deby, were key government figures in the 1990s. Tom Erdimi was director of Deby’s cabinet in 1991, and in charge of certain oil-related activities in the central African state.
In 2005, the duo rebelled against Deby, launching several offensives aimed at overthrowing the government, including one that earned them a death sentence in absentia while they were in exile overseas.
Tom’s release from prison was one of the conditions for the UFR joining a “national dialogue” in N’Djamena between civil society, opposition parties, trade unions, rebel groups and the military government of Mahamat Idriss Deby – son of the former president, who was killed during a military operation in 2021.
Government spokesman Abderaman Koulamallah told the AFP news agency that the rebel leader was “freed and surrounded by his children”. He added that the younger Deby had supported Tom’s release though maintained the matter was “an Egyptian affair”.
The release comes on the heels of a pre-negotiation parley held for five months in Doha, the Qatari capital by the Gulf State with the Chadian ruling military transitional council and more than 300 rebel groups.
The groups and delegates of Chad’s government were placed at a five-star hotel by their Qatari hosts in a mediation technique that left them feeling like “crabs in a bucket, according to one rebel leader who spoke to Al Jazeera.
A deal was reached in August after a deadlock and many rebel groups pulling out of talks over the perceived insincerity of N’djamena. Noticeably absent from the signing ceremony was The Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), the country’s main rebel group.
Later that month, Timan, who has been living in exile in Qatar for at least a decade, returned to the West African country.
In 2021, Chad’s transitional council granted a “general amnesty” to rebel groups, saying it wanted to “clean the slate” and move on.
Mahamat Deby has said power will be returned to the people after an 18-month transition period and a national dialogue meant to pave the way for “free and democratic elections”.