Chad rebels accuse junta of 'deliberately dragging out' Doha talks

AFP

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Participants listen to a speech as the Chad Peace Negotiations in Qatar's capital Doha, on March 13, 2022.
Karim Jaafar/AFPParticipants listen to a speech as the Chad Peace Negotiations in Qatar's capital Doha, on March 13, 2022.

Rebels say the government 'dragged out the negotiations by the repeated absence of senior representatives'

Armed Chadian rebel groups on Thursday accused N'Djamena of "deliberately dragging out" talks in Qatar that are designed to prepare for a national dialogue and elections later this year.

The landlocked African nation was thrown into turmoil after long-time leader Idriss Deby Itno died fighting rebels last April.

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His son, Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, seized control but promised free elections this year.

The Doha "pre-cursor" talks began on March 13, after a two-week delay, and were organized ahead of a national dialogue on May 10 followed by a new constitution and elections by the end of the year.

Dozens of armed groups and unarmed political activists are involved in the Qatar process but all reportedly refuse to speak directly with the government.

"After having deliberately dragged out the negotiations by the repeated absence of senior representatives, the government is trying to rush ahead and stop the political and military opposition from participating in the national dialogue," the groups said in a statement.

Government spokesman Abderaman Koulamallah denied the allegations.

"We have an interest in the Doha negotiations concluding before May 10 so that the political and military (opposition) can take part," he said.

The rebel statement warned: "The current transition authorities will bear the entire responsibility for the consequences of any breakdown in the negotiations underway or from the exclusion of political-military groups from the national dialogue."

On April 4 one of the groups attending the talks announced its withdrawal.

The Military Command Council for the Salvation of the Republic, which operates along the Libya-Chad borders, said it "reluctantly" decided to "withdraw from the pre-dialogue," over the "hidden agenda... of the military junta," without further explanation.

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