On 20 April 2021, Chad’s president, Idriss Déby Itno, died after being injured on the frontline under conditions that were as sudden as they were brutal.
The concerns that gripped the country were all the more legitimate and well-founded because since Itno came to power on 1 December 1990, he had worked tirelessly and made many sacrifices, using dialogue and, when necessary, making concessions to his political opponents to solidify the state, guarantee the country’s stability and protect its borders.
These two pillars of his political project – dialogue and concession – were of utmost importance to Itno, which is why he went to the battlefield to defend Chad’s territorial integrity.
A unique political scene
Two years after his tragic death, Chad is still standing and its institutions are solid. Given the pivotal role Itno played in the management of the country’s affairs for three decades, following the departure from the national political scene, political forces, civil society actors and main development partners unanimously felt that broad consultation between the forces and civil society was necessary, without exception.
By the end of these meetings, Chadians by consensus defined the outlines of the project for rebuilding the state with a view to real progress and lasting peace.
The team in charge of organising this major event set up pre-dialogues in the country’s 23 provinces. These were peace talks, which took shape in meetings in Doha, Qatar, between the various armed groups that were at odds over the country’s future.
This first round of inter-Chadian negotiations as a prelude to the inclusive and sovereign national dialogue was justified by the singularity of Chad’s domestic political scene.
Indeed, in view of the importance of armed groups in the national political arena, it seemed appropriate to precede the peace of souls with the peace of arms. In retrospect, the choice of this method of moving towards peace was a clear one, even if some of the parties invited to these talks were not, in the end, signatories to the Doha agreements or the conclusions of the Dialogue national inclusif et Souverain (DNIS).
What should be retained from these meetings is not only the constructive participation of armed groups in DNIS, but also their participation in the national unity government that has managed the country’s affairs since 12 October last year.
Entire nation invited
It is worth noting that the DNIS meetings were the second round of the transitional authorities’ roadmap for preserving Chad’s stability and promoting necessary institutional changes – particularly the return to constitutional order – in the context of the current geopolitical challenges.
In order to involve the whole nation in the work of building the country, transitional president Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno appointed a civilian prime minister as soon as he took office, Albert Pahimi Padacké – who was to be replaced some 18 months later by Saleh Kebzabo.
The appointment of this historical opponent of Itno senior reveals Itno junior’s willingness to open up; namely, to strengthen national cohesion in line with the political philosophy of his father and predecessor through Doha negotiations and the DNIS.
The form of the current national unity government is unique in the political history of the country in that it brings together strong as well as influential figures. Since taking office, the new administration has been working hard to lay the foundations that will lead the country to its planned elections next year and the return to constitutional order.
While this deadline is central to the roadmap of the transitional government, it is simultaneously working on various development projects that are essential for the country’s emergence, whether social, infrastructural or institutional.
Some could object that in Doha as in N’Djamena, not all the political or civil society actors were signatories to the peace agreements and, consequently, are not in solidarity with the transition. It should be noted that the head of state has kept his hand extended to Chadians absent from these meetings, which he reiterated during his closing speech at DNIS.
At the Mouvement patriotique du Salut (MPS), we are aware that the transition will not be a smooth process. The events of 20 October 2022 are a tragic illustration of this. However, we urge the transitional authorities to stay the course in bringing Chadians together.
The forthcoming referendum to adopt the structure of the state and a new constitution, the basis of our country’s institutions and our way of life together, will be crucial. There is already reason to be pleased after some of our compatriots regained their freedom due to the head of state’s presidential pardon.
We encourage Itno to persevere in the path of reconciliation among Chadians. And to those of our compatriots who have deliberately decided to exclude themselves from the current process, we urge them to return to their rightful place within the republic.
Finally, in the face of all these challenges in the near future, the multifaceted support of our partners remains vital.
Until the end of the second phase of the current transition, our country will need everyone’s help. The transition’s success is in the interest of all.
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