Chad: rebel leader Erdimi returns from exile as challenges to national dialogue persist
Exiled Chadian rebel leader Timan Erdimi has returned to his homeland after a decade in exile in Qatar for talks aiming to pave the way for democratic elections, though boycotts by rebel and opposition groups remain major hurdles.
The 67-year-old Erdimi, who heads the Union of Resistance Forces (UFR) returned to Chad Thursday (18 August), ahead of Saturday’s (20 August) anticipated landmark talks in N’Djamena, Chad’s capital. Erdimi is accused of leading an armed group that attempted to twice overthrow the Chadian government, in 2008 and 2019. Comprising at least 40 rebel groups, Erdimi’s UFR signed a peace agreement on 8 August in Doha for talks that would pave the way for elections after 18 months of military rule in Chad. But two of the biggest rebel groups — Front for Change and Concord in Chad — are boycotting the negotiations forum, claiming the forum is politically biased.
The international community, led by France and the African Union, is calling on the authorities to respect the schedule set by the Doha peace agreement. The 1,400 or so delegates, members of trade unions, political parties, the transitional parliament and armed groups, will meet at the 15 January palace in committees to consider issues as diverse as state reform, the electoral process, peace and national reconciliation. Chad, which has been independent from France since 1960, has experienced numerous coups and attempts to overthrow the government during its history.