A Year After Déby’s Death, Peace & Democracy Remain Elusive in Chad

Since seizing power after the sudden death of former leader Idriss Déby last year, the ruling Chadian military junta is yet to make any significant progress in returning the country to civilian rule.

One year ago, former leader of Chad Idriss Déby Itno met his untimely death on the frontline fighting rebels belonging to a group calling itself FACT (the Front for Change and Concord in Chad).

Déby’s 38-year-old son, General Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno immediately seized power with the help of the military, alleging he would continue his father’s legacy, who had been in power for 30 years. Shortly before his death, Idriss Déby had just won an election to prolong his stay in power.

The West had long regarded Déby as a strongman committed to the fight against terrorists operating within the Sahel region and therefore, his son’s takeover was seen as an assurance towards sustaining that fight.

The present-day military transitional government headed by General Déby had promised last year that the army would hold democratic elections within 18 months; that deadline is now fast approaching. Many analysts fear the ground may not be fertile for elections just yet.

When General Déby announced the plans of ruling with a 15-member military junta back in April last year, it didn’t take long before cracks began to emerge: one year later, the junta is still struggling to reach a deal with the rebels, whose actions led to the death of his father.

Talks with rebel groups in Qatar’s capital of Doha, which began on March 13 following delays, aren’t bearing much fruit: Chadian rebels and envoys of the military government have been refusing to face each other across the negotiating table the whole time.

Despite this, the ruling junta said it is hoping to hold a national forum bz May 10 that will approve the path back to civilian rule. The envisaged “inclusive national dialogue” was intended to bring together the various parties and armed factions from across the nation.

Those plans are now under threat, with rebels still suspicious of the ruling junta and Chad’s political opposition threatening to boycott the forum, which is only further complicatin the tense situation in the country.

Since gaining independence from France in 1960, Chad has remained largely in a constant state of conflict, with armed opposition groups fighting each other for decades. With such a long-standing history of suffering, finding a solution out of the current crisis seems elusive, especially with the national forum still intended to take place next month.

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