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Chad’s military government signed a peace deal with more than 40 opposition groups Monday, an agreement that is expected to kickstart reconciliation talks in the restive African nation, Al Jazeera reported.
The government and rebel groups signed the accord in the Qatari capital of Doha following months of negotiations. Since March, Qatar has been mediating talks between the armed rebels and the government of Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno, a general who seized power after his father, President Idriss Déby Itno, was killed in a battle with rebels last year.
Under the accord, participants will attend a national dialogue – known as the N’Djamena talks – later this month. It aims to pave the way for presidential elections later this year. The deal also commits the signatories to a ceasefire during the talks. The Chadian government said it would guarantee the safety of the rebel leaders attending the dialogue.
Officials said 42 of the 47 factions signed the accord. Even so, the main rebel group, Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), rejected the deal.
FACT officials warned that participants in the reconciliation talks will not be treated equally and demanded a new committee to organize the negotiations. It added that the deal’s guarantees were insufficient and that Déby must forswear running in future elections.
Following last year’s takeover, Déby pledged there would be elections in 18 months. However, he has retained the authority to extend his administration’s “transitional” rule for an additional 18 months.
Chad has had little stability since it became independent from France in 1960. Still, the talks will be closely observed internationally as the country remains a key ally in international efforts to fight armed groups around the region.