Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno signed an agreement with 40 rebel groups on Monday in Qatar to launch a national dialogue on 20 August in N’Djamena.
The transitional president in power in N’Djamena, who arrived in Doha on 5 August, signed an agreement in Qatar on Monday with some 40 rebel groups to launch a national dialogue on 20 August in the Chadian capital.
The Front pour l’Alternance et la Concorde au Tchad (FACT), one of the main rebel groups, did not sign the agreement, despite mediators in Doha trying to convince it to do so until the last minute.
The Qatari Foreign Ministry spokesman Majid Al Ansari told us that he nevertheless believes that “the lines of communication remain open with all the parties (including FACT) that participated in the negotiations. Qatar is ready to continue its role as a mediator if requested to do so in the future.”
He reported that 42 out of the 47 groups represented in Doha during the negotiations had signed the agreement. The signing comes after five months of negotiations between Chad’s Conseil Militaire de Transition (TMC) and armed groups, which began in March after several postponements, to end decades of unrest and instability in Chad.
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“These negotiations took some time, first because of the number of participants, then because of the different versions of the agreement and last-minute changes. The agreement first concerns the format of the discussions which will now take place in N’Djamena,” said the Qatari ministry spokesman.
As for the agreement’s content, according to a source who had access to it, it provides for: a permanent ceasefire and the end of hostilities between all parties; the commitment of the TMC to not conduct military or police operations against the signatory groups on Chadian territory or in neighbouring countries; a consensus on the need to disarm military groups and integrate them into the army; and the opening of a national dialogue to address institutional problems and organise elections.
On this last point, Ansari is optimistic and says that the agreement “opens the way to a vote”, the details of which must now be discussed in N’Djamena.
The text, which is supposed to pave the way for a return to civilian rule, has been described as a “key moment for the Chadian people” by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Qatar has been engaged in mediation diplomacy for several years, which has led the emirate to hold discussions on Darfur and Afghanistan, among others. Ansari welcomes the fact that Qatar is now seen as “a trusted international partner with solid experience in building peace.”
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