Peace talks between Chad’s military government and various opposition groups to be started in Qatar on Sunday have been adjourned for 48 hours. The negotiations that were the first step towards putting an end to rebellion in the country and to hold legitimate elections met a roadblock because of a dispute over format of the negotiations. The talks were suspended after opening speeches by country’s prime minister and head of African Union Commission.
The African country has suffered a turmoil since last year April when its long time leader Idriss Deby Itno was killed by rebels. After that his son Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno had seized control at the head of a military council. But he has promised free elections in the country this year. But the process isn’t as easy and simple as it sounds.
The peace meeting in Doha, that were originally scheduled for February 27, had attendees including around 44 armed rebel and opposition groups. But some were missing in the talks. Difficulties and challenges came to the forefront when the leading opposition Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT) and many allies refused to begin the talks after the opening speeches. It was the demand, as said by the FACT spokesperson Issa Ahmat, that the opposition wasn’t ready for direct contact with representatives of the government of Chad and demanded Qatar to act as a mediator.
Many other officials of the opposition said that Qatar had initially proposed to set up a committee for peace talks with 10 representatives from each side. These officials clarified that the talks had been suspended to assess if the proposed committee could be formed.
Holding the peace talks is the first step towards holding elections this year and agreeing to a new constitution in Chad, as envisioned by the 38-year-old army general Deby.
Being rich in ethnic groups and equally large number of armed outfits, Chad has had a long history of volatile circumstances since 1960 when it gained independence from France. “The situation in Chad is very serious, we have to deliver this,” the African Union’s Moussa Faki said in his address to the government and armed groups.