N’Djamena – A national dialogue in Chad launched by the country’s military rulers will be extended by 10 days after multiple interruptions, the forum agreed on Tuesday.
The so-called inclusive national dialogue aimed at paving the way to restoring civilian rule began last month and was expected to end on September 20. The closing ceremony will now be on September 30.
The process has been repeatedly delayed – with major armed rebel groups and opposition parties boycotting it as they say it is a narrow dialogue between the government and those friendly to it.
Chadian President Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno heads a transitional military council of 15 generals after taking power following his father’s death battling rebels in April 2021.
He set up the dialogue with a view to holding “free and democratic elections” within 18 months.
The forum has yet to begin substantive work to achieve this goal.
Its president suspended a sitting on Saturday until Monday to give more time to a committee seeking to persuade the boycotting groups to join the dialogue.
But main opposition coalition Wakit Tamma and FACT – one of Chad’s two main armed rebel groups – announced their definitive boycott of the reconciliation process over “repression”.
The body leading the dialogue on Tuesday submitted a new agenda to the gathering of 1,400 delegates, which was adopted.
The spokesman for the dialogue, Limane Mahamat, said the forum would not have enough time to cover all the themes and debates by September 20, and so recommended an extension of 10 days.
In addition to the majority of the political opposition, several civil society groups and professional associations boycotted the forum or withdrew from the dialogue shortly before it began.
Chad, one of the world’s poorest countries, has endured repeated uprisings and unrest since independence from France in 1960.