In Chad, a promise of amnesty to clear the future

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The general, now five stars, Mahamat Déby in N'Djamena, April 23, 2021 during his father's funeral.

Heir to Idriss Déby’s power, but not to his wars. Seven months after being given orders for Chad ” because, he said, God willed it ”, Mahamat Déby, 37, is trying to relieve himself of the conflicts that marked the life of his father and ended up winning in April.

Adopted Monday, November 29 in the extraordinary council of ministers, the general amnesty bills granted ” to those who, for one reason or another, had chosen the path of exile and / or violence to express their political differences ” respond to an intention of the interim president of “Make a clean sweep of the vestiges inherited from the dark periods of our country”.

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In fact, the first text, which has yet to be submitted to the National Transitional Council (CNT) – the interim Parliament – concerns “39 people sentenced for acts of attacking the integrity of the State and crimes of opinion”. The second, “257 members” of armed groups, detained and tried after the rebel offensive of the Union of Resistance Forces (UFR) in February 2019, for facts ” of terrorism, complicity, recruitment and enlistment of minors under the armed forces ”.

“The Head of State is determined to turn the page of the past and the amnesty was one of the prerequisites for the politico-military to participate in the national dialogue. The philosophy of this measure is to allow everyone to go home ”, specifies the Minister of Communication, Abderaman Koulamallah, himself a former rebel who rallied to power before Idriss Déby died in combat.

” First step “

“It’s a first step in the right direction. But there is still a long way to go. We are waiting for the release of our political detainees and the return of our property ”, answers Timan Erdimi, nephew and intimate enemy of Déby father. Welcomed for more than ten years in Qatar, the boss of the UFR no longer has his weight of yesteryear among the Chadian rebellions that gravitate between Libya and Sudan.

Its numbers and resources have melted away. His return, like that of his ex-ally and then competitor, Mahamat Nouri, refugee and accused of “Crimes against humanity” in France for alleged forced enlistments, would be seen above all as symbolic. A sign of relaxation and appeasement, much more than a guarantee of lasting peace.

Today in Chad, if the voices of civil society are already denouncing the consecration of impunity for those who have chosen armed protest and the preponderant place offered to politico-military groups on the political spectrum, questions still arise. on the scope of this promise of general amnesty.

The most wanted man in the country since he claimed responsibility for the fatal shooting at Idriss Déby, Mahamat Mahadi Ali, the leader of the Front for Alternation and Concord in Chad (FACT), will he be concerned? Will he be able to safely participate in N’Djamena in this “Inclusive national dialogue” announced by the de facto authorities?

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“We are not talking about pardon or amnesty, because the junta in power is no more legitimate than us rebels, coupe Mahamat Mahadi Ali. We are only waiting for, like us, to release the prisoners of war and declare a ceasefire, and finally to stop repressing peaceful demonstrations ”.

The rebel leader now under military pressure from his former ally in Libya, Khalifa Haftar, he said aided by “French framers” , however, does not intend to boycott the dialogue. “We will not give this pleasure to the junta when we have been asking for a round table since 2016”, promises the rebel leader.

“If the FACT people have not been convicted, then they are presumed innocent. In any case, we will find a solution ”, reassures Minister Abderaman Koulamallah for his part when a judicial inquiry was opened in N’Djamena on the circumstances of the death of “Marshal of Chad”.

In the current context, each party knows that any obstructionist maneuver, any empty chair policy, would be counterproductive. Since the beginning of October, the former president, Goukouni Weddey, has indeed led a committee which, from Paris to Doha via Cairo, has been responsible for bringing all the trends back to the discussion table. A pre-dialogue between the authorities and the rebel groups should thus be held initially in Qatar. Doha has given its agreement in this direction and there is no doubt that, if necessary, its largesse will be appreciated to finance the return of the combatants, especially from Libya, their disarmament and their demobilization.

Fifth star

Anyway, while, according to several sources, the dialogue between Chadians should not open before February or March 2022, some agitation has already won the most militant diaspora. A figure of Chadian dissidents in France where he has been a refugee since 2013, Makaïla Nguebla is preparing his return for the next few days, since he was received with other activists in Paris in mid-November by the president of the transition.

“He gave us his word that we could go home without worry. He is looking for new people to surround him and has offered to work with him if we wish ” he explains, convinced of Mahamat Déby’s good faith. Anxious to bury his father’s quarrels, he also received in Paris Abakar Manany, in conflict since 2008 with the deceased after having been one of his closest advisers.

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The fact remains that despite all these gestures of relaxation, several observers wonder about the real desire for inclusion of the regime. “Dialogue is very likely to fail for structural reasons, Roland Marchal analysis from the Sciences Po International Research Center. He will not be able to resolve the country’s current conflicts, because that would require asking the question of the nature of the regime and Mahamat Déby has no room for maneuver with his family and his clan who do not want the opening of power. ”

From this perspective, the provisional Parliament, the CNT, appointed by the fifteen generals who make up the Transitional Military Council, the main decision-making body, could serve to mitigate the recommendations resulting from the “Inclusive national dialogue”.

In local political life where it often boils down to a few words and a lot of weapons, where the brothers, uncles and the whole extended family of Mahamat Déby have so far maintained an appearance of unity, a reunion of all political tendencies could be a historic chance for reconciliation. Above all, it could give the young general an opportunity to sew the first threads of a presidential suit for the future.

During his rare public speeches, Kaka, his nickname, has always evaded the question of his future. In N’Djamena, some are already taking care of it for him, foreseeing that like his father, the one who has just added a fifth star to his uniform will continue to visit the barracks, but in the shoes of a presiding general.

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In Chad, a promise of amnesty to clear the future