Chad's Government, Rebels Sign Cease-Fire Pledge

The military government and over 40 rebel groups in Chad signed a pledge in Doha, Qatar on Monday committing to a cease-fire ahead of talks later this month that are planned in N'Djamena, the capital of Chad.

Civil society groups demonstrate against Chad's transitional military government © DW/ Blaise Dariustone.



The national reconciliation talks are planned for August 20. Ahead of those talks, the military government in Chad vowed to "not take any military or police operations against the signing groups" in countries neighboring Chad.


Mahamat Zene Cherif, foreign minister for the interim military government, said more than 1,500 representatives would attend those talks, which he hoped would lead to lasting peace.


"This national, inclusive dialogue is a forum for all Chadian people," Cherif said.



What happened during the signing ceremony?


Qatari Foreign Minister Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani told those at the ceremony that "other groups will join the march of reconciliation and peace, with a view to achieving the aspirations and dreams of the Chadian people."


"The initial peace agreement we are celebrating today will be an important turning point towards stability and prosperity for the Chadian people," Al Thani said.


In a video message played prior to the signing ceremony, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the event was "a key moment for the Chadian people," but noted that future talks would have to be "inclusive" for success to be achieved.


Twenty rebel groups walked out of the talks in July, accusing Mahamat Idriss Deby, the 38-year-old son of the late president who is now heading a military government, of "harassments, intimidation, threats and disinformation."


Rebel groups have called for Deby not to run in an eventual election, whereas the military government has said only national reconciliation talks can solve that contentious dispute. Monday's pledge did not include anything about whether Deby could or should run for president.


Diplomatic observers said it would be a race to usher in a democratic transfer of power by holding an election by the October deadline. Deby took power in April 2021, following battles with rebel groups.


Details about monitoring and enforcement were not part of the document signed in Doha on Monday.



What could impede the pledge's success?


The largest rebel group in Chad, the Front for Change and Concord in Chad, did not participate. Known by its French acronym, FACT, it has been blamed for the death of the former president, Idriss Deby Itno, in 2021. He had been in power since 1990 and according to Chadian authorities, died commanding troops on the front line.

The absence of FACT at the table puts the agreement in immediate jeopardy, as it is unclear whether any pledge taken without their participation can hold. There is, however, some hope that the 18-month transition from military rule is winding down.


Officials at the talks said 42 of the 47 groups that participated would be signing the accord.


FACT said in a statement ahead of the ceremony that it "rejects the accord that will be put to signatories on Monday," calling for a new committee to organize new talks and saying participants in the national dialogue would not be treated equally.


"However, FACT remains available for dialogue anywhere and anytime," the group said.


Thirty years of rule by Deby's father led to unrest and the formation of fragmented rebel groups.


The former French colony - bordered by Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Libya, Niger, Nigeria and Sudan - is in an insecure neighborhood with porous borders. Many rebel groups have found shelter and common cause by operating across national boundaries.






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