Chad’s military government Monday signed a deal with more than 40 opposition groups to launch national peace talks later this month, although the main rebel outfit refused to take part.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the African Union urged the junta and opposition to seize the latest opportunity to stabilize a country considered key to international efforts to stamp out Islamic extremists in the Sahel region.
But after five months of mediation efforts by Qatar, the main rebel Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT) announced hours before the ceremony at a Doha hotel that it would not sign the deal.
Under the agreement, Mahamat Idriss Deby’s Transitional Military Council and hundreds of opposition representatives will launch a national peace dialogue in the capital N’Djamena on August 20.
Deby, who was in Doha for the signing, took power after the death of his father, long-time president Idriss Deby Itno, in a battle with rebels in April last year.
The dialogue aims to agree the schedule and rules for a presidential election that Deby has promised by October.
However, few of the groups who took part in the talks, or the diplomats who monitored the painstaking negotiations, expect an election this year.