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Chad Military Begins Talks With Opposition Groups

Chad’s military government has begun talks with some opposition groups.

Gatekeepers News reports that Chad’s military government has met some 44 armed rebel and opposition groups to hold peace talks in Qatar.

This first step is taken to work towards ending a rebellion and holding elections in the nation.

Some of the opposition groups were however missing at the opening on Sunday in Doha despite having delayed the meeting from February 27.

Albert Pahimi Padacke, Chad’s Prime Minister, and Moussa Faki Mahamat, African Union Commission head told the opening of the conference that both sides would have to make concessions for the talks to succeed.

However, the process risks being protracted and complicated.

Last April, the landlocked African nation was thrown into turmoil after the killing of longtime leader Idriss Deby Itno in battle with rebels in the country’s north.

His 38-year-old son, Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno took over after his death, heading a 15-member military council and vowing to hold free elections after a national dialogue that was scheduled to start on May 10.

Nevertheless, Diplomats have said the national dialogue may have to be delayed because the “precursor” talks in Doha could take weeks.

Under Mahamat’s plan, the dialogue would be a prelude to agreeing on a new constitution and then holding elections.

Since Chad gained independence from France in 1960, the nation has had a turbulent history and tens of thousands have died in various conflicts between its large, shifting constellation of armed opposition groups.

One of the conditions by Chadian rebels for the Doha talks was a general amnesty – the release of “prisoners of war” and the return of confiscated assets.

Meanwhile, the military government says it has released hundreds of prisoners and given amnesty to several prominent leaders.

However, it has so far excluded the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT) – the Libya-based group that launched the offensive in which Idriss Deby Itno was killed and their leader, Mahamat Mahdi Ali was not at the talks.

“The situation in Chad is very serious, we have to deliver this,” the African Union’s Mahamat said in his address to the government and armed groups.

Padacke said “peace requires more courage and maturity than war” and that the talks’ success would help stabilise the whole Sahel region where armed groups have staged regular attacks.

“Real courage does not mean brandishing your weapon but to have the courage to lay it down”, he said.

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