Junta leader Chad in Qatar after months of peace negotiations

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (TSWT) – The head of Chad’s military government met with the ruling emir of Qatar on Saturday after months of talks between Chadian troops and rebel groups organized by the Arab country.

General Mahamat Idriss Deby of Chad spoke with the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. Footage from the Qatari royal court, or Diwan, showed Sheikh Tamim with Qatar’s foreign minister, while a Chadian delegation accompanied Deby.

A later statement by the state-run Qatar News Agency cited Sheikh Tamim as a supporter of “comprehensive national reconciliation in Chad”, saying ongoing negotiations between the military and the rebels were a first step in that direction.

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Sheikh Tamim also reportedly wished Deby luck at an upcoming national dialogue scheduled in the Chadian capital of N’Djamena on August 20. The talks were previously scheduled for May.

Talks between the rebel groups and the military began in March in Qatar’s capital Doha. Deby’s visit comes as diplomats hope the military government and rebel groups will sign an agreement in Doha ahead of the August 20 talks.

But it remains unclear whether the Front for Change and Concord in Chad, the main rebel group in the country, will sign a deal. That shadowy group, known by the French acronym FACT, is blamed for the 2021 assassination of Chad’s longtime president Idriss Deby Itno, who has ruled the country since 1990.

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Mahamat Idriss Deby is the 38-year-old son of the assassinated president who heads Chad’s transitional military council.

Other rebel groups involved in the talks in Qatar included the Movement for Democracy and Justice in Chad, the Union of Forces for Democracy and Development, and others. They have called on Deby to declare that he will not participate in the upcoming elections, although the military junta has insisted that this can only be decided in the national dialogue talks.

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A planned 18-month transition period in Chad is set to expire in the coming months, putting new pressure on the parties to reach an agreement. Chad had already become frustrated with Deby’s father’s 30-year rule, which led to years of rebel uprisings in the former French colony bordering Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Libya, Niger, Nigeria and Sudan.

In July, Qatar’s 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 disinformation” during the negotiations.

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Follow Jon Gambrell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP.

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