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August Chad peace plan expected to be signed in Qatar: sources

#August #Chad #peace #plan #expected #signed #Qatar #sources

Qatar intends to hold a ministerial summit in early August to seal a deal between Chad’s military government and opposition rebels on a national peace dialogue, negotiators said on Sunday.

The Gulf Emirate’s Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, spoke with the Central African nation’s military leader Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno on Saturday, officials said.

Gulf state mediators are set to meet with rebel negotiators this week to sway resistance groups.

“Qatar wants to reach an agreement this week so they can hold an international meeting soon,” a negotiator said.

Deby took power in April last year after his father, longtime leader Idriss Deby Itno, was killed in a fight with rebels. The son promised to hold elections within 18 months with the intention of extending that schedule.

Dozens of Chadian opposition and government officials have been in Doha since March to set the terms for the start of a national dialogue that would pave the way for presidential elections.

The dialogue has been postponed several times, most recently on July 16, when a host of rebel and political groups backed down, accusing the government of seeking to destabilize peace efforts.

About a week later, these groups said they would rejoin the process.

Diplomats overseeing the talks say there has been progress and a majority of the groups have agreed to sign an agreement to allow talks to begin in N’djamena on August 20.

However, these groups are not the most powerful.

– ‘Good start’ –

The latest document, seen by AFP, proposes a general ceasefire and gives security guarantees to rebel leaders returning to N’Djamena talks. A special non-Chadian force would take care of security.

“Negotiations with all opposition groups are still ongoing and while we are still working with the parties to reach an agreement on the next steps, we hope to resume the next round in early August,” a Qatari government official told AFP.

Qatari mediators are still trying to persuade the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), one of the main rebel groups, to join and give the national dialogue a greater chance of success.

FACT leader Mahamat Mahdi Ali has called the current draft document “a good start”, but his negotiators have called for further concessions from the government.

Idriss Deby Itno died after being mortally wounded fighting FACT, a large armed group based in Libya.

Qatar wants to quickly hold a formal signing ceremony in Doha, which will be attended by Deby and foreign ministers from key countries including France.

The international community wants to avoid a further delay in national dialogue and a consequent threat to the landmark election that could result in Deby extending his transitional arrangement.

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