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Chad: Military Gov’t, Opposition Sign Peace Deal in Qatar
By Staff, Agencies
Chad’s military government has signed a deal with more than 40 opposition groups to launch national peace talks, but the central African country’s main rebel group has refused to take part.
Under the accord, signed in the Qatari capital Doha on Monday, talks aimed at paving the way for a presidential election will start on August 20.
Since March, Qatar has been mediating between opposition groups and the military government of Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, a general who seized power after his father died in a battle with rebels last year.
But the Front for Change and Concord in Chad [FACT], the main rebel group, said it would not sign the deal despite last-minute efforts by Qatar’s mediators.
In a statement released in Doha before the deal was signed, FACT said it “rejects the accord that will be put to signatories on Monday”.
It added that participants in the national dialogue would not be treated equally and demanded a new committee be set up to organize the talks, as well as the release of rebel prisoners in government prisons.
“However, FACT remains available for dialogue anywhere and anytime,” added the statement from the group, which is estimated to have between 1,500 and 2,000 fighters.
FACT fighters led the rebel offensive in which Deby’s father, Idriss Deby Itno, who had been president for 30 years, was killed.
Chad has had little stability since its independence in 1960, and the coming talks are being widely watched, as the country is seen as a key ally in international efforts to counter armed groups fighting around the region.
Qatar’s foreign ministry said the talks, to be held in Chad’s capital, N’Djamena, would seek “inclusive national reconciliation”.
The Doha accord commits signatories to a ceasefire during the N’Djamena talks. The military government has also guaranteed the safety of rebel leaders who attend the talks.
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