DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The head of Chad’s military government met with Qatar’s ruling emir on Saturday after months of talks between Chadian forces and rebel factions hosted by the Arab country.
Chadian General Mahamat Idris Deby spoke with the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. Footage from Qatar’s royal court, or divan, showed Sheikh Tamim with Qatar’s foreign minister, while a delegation from Chad accompanied Deby.
A later statement on Qatar’s state news agency said Sheikh Tamim supported a “comprehensive national reconciliation in Chad,” saying ongoing negotiations between the military and rebels represented a first step in that direction.
Sheikh Tamim also reportedly wished Deby the best of luck in an upcoming national dialogue scheduled in Chad’s capital, N’Djamena, on August 20. The talks were earlier set for May.
Talks between the rebels and the military began in March in Doha, the capital of Qatar. Deby’s visit comes as diplomats hope the military government and rebel groups will sign a deal in Doha ahead of talks on August 20.
However, it remains unclear whether the Front for Change and Concord in Chad, the main rebel group in the country, will sign a deal. This shadowy group, known by its French acronym FACT, is accused of assassinating Chad’s long-time president, Idriss Deby Itno, in 2021.who ruled the country since 1990.
Mahamat Idris Deby is the 38-year-old son of the slain president who heads Chad’s Transitional Military Council.
Other rebel groups involved in the Qatar talks were the Movement for Democracy and Justice in Chad, the Union of Forces for Democracy and Development and others. They have asked Deby to declare that he will not run in any upcoming elections, although the military junta has insisted that this can only be decided at the national dialogue talks.
A planned 18-month transition period in Chad is due to end in the coming months, putting renewed pressure on the sides to reach a deal. Already, Chad was disillusioned by 30 years of rule by Deby’s father, which led to years of rebel insurgencies in the former French colony which borders Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Libya, Niger, Nigeria and Sudan.
In July, Qatari satellite news network Al Jazeera reported that more than 20 rebel groups had withdrawn from the Doha talks. They had accused the military government of “harassment, intimidation, threats and misinformation” during the negotiations.
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