Chad military government signs peace deal with rebel opposition group

Chad’s military government has signed a peace deal with more than 40 opposition groups to launch a national reconciliation dialogue, but the main opposition rebel group has refused to take part in the truce document. The peace accord, recently signed in Doha, the Qatari capital, is expected to open talks beginning on August 20, which will pave way for a presidential election.  

 What brought about the Peace Accord?  

Since gaining independence in 1960, the transfer of power in Chad has often come through force. The immediate past president, Idris Deby Itno, came to power by spearheading a rebellion in 1990, and he himself foiled threats of being overthrown by rebel-led incursions in 2006, 2008, and again in 2019. But in April 2021, he was killed on the battlefield while leading troops against the Front for Change and Concord in Chad, FACT, the strongest and one of the few still active rebel groups in the country.

However, since March, the Qatari government has been mediating between opposition groups and the military government of Mahamat Idris Deby Itno, a general who seized power after his father, Idris Deby Itno died while fighting rebels last year. The 38-year-old Mahamat Deby, promised elections in 18 months after seizing power in April 2021, but his military administration has retained the power to extend its transitional rule by 18 months, making Deby face pressure from France, European Union, and African Union to meet the October Deadline.

Who is opposing the Peace Deal?

The Front for Change and Concord in Chad, FACT, Chad’s leading rebel group said it would not sign the deal despite last-minute efforts by Qatari’s mediators.

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In a statement released in Doha before the deal was signed, FACT said it “rejects the accord that will be put to signatories”, adding that the participant in the national dialogue would not be treated equally. The group demanded that a new committee be set up to organize the talks, as well as the release of rebel prisoners from government prisons, adding that they remained available for dialogue, anywhere and anytime.

What gains will the Peace Deal bring?

The coming talks that the peace deal heralds are being widely watched as the country are seen as a key ally in the international efforts to counter armed groups fighting around the world. Qatar’s foreign ministry said the talks held in N’Djamena, Chad’s capital would seek “inclusive national reconciliation” revealing that some 42 of the 47 groups represented in the Doha talk will sign the accord.

“We are very optimistic. We are happy today that we signed a peace agreement” Fadoul Hissein, a member of the National Council for Reform, one of the groups signatories to the Peace Deal told al Jazeera, calling it historic. “All Chadians will be happy with this deal”, he said, adding that the international observers would monitor it.