Chadian junta and rebel groups open peace talks in Qatar
Chad’s ruling military council and representatives of rebel forces gather for the official opening of peace talks in Qatar
DOHA, Qatar – Chad’s ruling military council and representatives of rebel forces met for the official opening of peace talks in Qatar on Sunday, part of a wider diplomatic effort to end decades of fighting and instability in this vast country dominated by factions.
Delegations from a constellation of opposition and armed rebel groups gathered with African, American, European and Qatari officials for a ceremony marking the start of talks, followed by negotiations between the Chadian parties behind closed doors.
The rebel groups at the table included the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT, by its French acronym), the Movement for Democracy and Justice in Chad, the Union of Forces for Democracy and Development and d other fiercely opposed to the Deby regime.
As part of the delicate 18-month transition period, Deby promised to launch a national dialogue with rebel groups to move towards stabilizing the country and organizing elections. Sunday’s high-level meeting in the cavernous, red-carpeted ballroom of the Sheraton Hotel represents a crucial first step in this process of reconciliation.
Chadian Prime Minister Albert Pahimi Padacke reiterated his support for an “open to all” national dialogue and promised that the country’s eventual presidential and legislative elections would be “transparent and credible” to “rebuild the state on solid foundations”.
He also hailed the transitional council’s amnesty decree that last fall overturned the convictions of hundreds of dissidents and armed rebels and allowed them to return to the country.
Throughout the late Deby’s three decades of autocratic rule, his government was repeatedly threatened by rebels seeking to stage incursions into the country’s capital. Rebels have flowed into the country frequently from Libya, Chad’s war-torn northern neighbor, where Chadian fighters have joined one of several foreign mercenary groups in recent years.
“We must unite our efforts and brush aside differences in order to overcome the common challenge of the spread of transnational organized crime and to eliminate extremist terrorist groups operating across our common border,” Libyan Foreign Minister Najla Mangoush said during the meeting. of the ceremony.
Chad has been considered for decades as a strategic country and ally of France, its former colonial power, at the intersection of multiple conflicts. France depends on Chad as a military base for its own troops and as a strategic partner to fight extremist violence in the Sahel region.
The small Gulf Arab state of Qatar has played an outsized diplomatic role in various conflicts from Africa to the Middle East in recent years, most notably as a key intermediary between Afghan Taliban leaders and US forces including the 20 years ended in a tense and bitter war. late last year.
The energetic Sheikh also brokered the resumption of diplomatic relations between Kenya and Somalia, which had long been in dispute, and Somalia last year.
“Qatar will do everything in its power to make (the talks) a success as facilitator and host,” said Soltan-al-Muraikhi, Qatar’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs.