Chad: Military council takes hard line with rebels

Chad's ruling military junta refuses to negotiate with the rebels of the ‘Front pour l'Alternance et la Concorde' in Chad…

Chad’s ruling military junta refuses to negotiate with the rebels of the ‘Front pour l’Alternance et la Concorde’ in Chad (FACT) despite a mediation launched by some G5 Sahel member countries.After the burial of President Idriss Itno, who died on April 20 from injuries suffered on the warfront, the FACT rebels say they are in favor of a ceasefire, if an inclusive dialogue is initiated.

But these calls for a dialogue apparently have fallen on deaf ears, as the Transitional Military Council (CMT), in power since the announcement of Idriss Deby’s death, has ruled out such an offer.

“Faced with this situation endangering Chad and the stability of the entire sub-region, the time is neither for mediation nor negotiations with outlaws,” CMT spokesman, Azem Bermandoa Agouna said in a statement on state TV (Tele Tchad).

General Azem, taking the opportunity, notably called on Niger for “cooperation and solidarity under the various agreements binding the two brother countries.” This is to facilitate the “capture” and “the judgement of these war criminals responsible for the death of dozens of Chadian soldiers, including the Marshal of Chad.”

Also read: Deby:The loss of France’s “best African soldier”

FACT rebels from Libya launched an offensive against the Chadian army in the north of the country two weeks ago. They then retreated to Nigerien territory, more than 600 km from the capital Ndjamena, near the towns of Nguiguimi and Ngourti.

General Azem, who calls the FACT rebels “a column of mercenaries from Libya,” says they are now “routed” after “heavy fighting”.

Chad, which holds the presidency of the G5 Sahel, called on member countries to “coordinate and pool solidarity efforts in order to incapacitate those who have now assassinated the ‘Marshal of Chad’ and attacked security of the country, as well as that of the entire Sahel.”

Mediation of the G5 Sahel

On Saturday, FACT said it was ready for a ceasefire following a mediation launched the day before between the military and the rebels by the presidents of Niger and Mauritania, to members of the G5 Sahel organization grouping Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Burkina Faso.

The president of Niger, Mohamed Bazoum, had called the rebel leader Mahadi Ali, according to an adviser to the head of state. “We responded positively to the mediation of Niger and Mauritania and affirmed our readiness to observe a truce, a ceasefire,” Mahadi Ali told AFP on Saturday evening. However, “if they want to go to war, we will go to war. If we are attacked, we will retaliate,” the rebel leader said to the military junta.

Also read: Chad: What’s next after Deby’s demise (decryption)

After the announcement of the death of Marshal-President Idriss Deby Itno, his son Mahamat Idriss Deby, a four-star general aged 37 years and until then commander of the Republican Guard, has been chosen to head the Transitional Military Council surrounded by 14 of the most loyal generals of his father. He must ensure an 18-month transition before the organization of “free and democratic elections.”