Dubai, United Arab Emirates (AFP) – The head of Chad’s military government met on Saturday with Qatar’s ruling emir after months of talks between Chadian forces and rebel factions hosted by the Arab country.
Chadian General Mohamed Idriss Deby spoke with the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. Footage from the Qatari Royal Court showed Sheikh Tamim accompanied by the Qatari Foreign Minister, while Deby was accompanied by a Chadian delegation.
A later statement published by the state-run Qatar News Agency quoted Sheikh Tamim as supporting “comprehensive national reconciliation in Chad,” saying that the ongoing negotiations between the army and the rebels represented a first step towards that.
Sheikh Tamim reportedly wished Deby luck in the upcoming national dialogue to be held in the Chadian capital, N’Djamena, on August 20. The talks were earlier scheduled to take place in May.
Talks between the rebel factions and the army began in March in the Qatari capital, Doha. Deby’s visit comes as diplomats hope the military government and rebel groups will sign an agreement in Doha ahead of the Aug. 20 talks.
But it remains unclear whether the Front for Change and Accord in Chad, the country’s main rebel group, will sign an agreement. That mysterious group, known by the French acronym FACT, is blamed for the death of Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno in 2021.who has ruled the country since 1990.
Mohamed Idriss Deby, 38, is the son of the slain president who leads Chad’s Transitional Military Council.
Other rebel groups participating in the Qatar talks include the Movement for Democracy and Justice in Chad and the Union of Forces for Democracy and Development, among others. They called on Deby to announce that he would not run in any future elections, although the military council insisted that this could only be determined in the National Dialogue talks.
An 18-month transition period in Chad is set to expire in the coming months, putting renewed pressure on the two sides to reach an agreement. Already, Chad has been frustrated by Déby’s father’s 30 years of rule, which has led to years of rebel uprisings in the former French colony that borders Cameroon, Central African Republic, Libya, Niger, Nigeria and Sudan.
In July, the Qatari news channel Al Jazeera reported that More than 20 rebel groups withdrew from the Doha talks. They accused the military government of “harassment, intimidation, threats and disinformation” during the negotiations.
Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.