Yaounde, Cameroon — Chad President Mahamat Idriss Deby is touring the nation, touting his efforts to maintain peace and restore civilian rule, in accordance with resolutions set forth in October 2022 at the Inclusive and Sovereign National Dialogue. But Chad’s political opposition says the central African state remains plagued by hunger, poverty and armed conflict since the military leader took power in April 2021.
This week’s visit to Abeche, capital of the Ouaddai region and the country’s fourth-largest city, was the 21st stop since Deby launched his tour to explain progress made in developing the central African state and ending what officials call endemic poverty.
Deby’s message to civilians in Abeche was broadcast by Chad’s national TV.
Deby said drinkable water has been extended to several villages and towns, including Abeche. Many hospitals have either been constructed or equipped to respond to civilian health needs, and primary education is free to enable all Chadian children to have an education, he said, adding that his government is funding many agriculture and livestock projects to make youths and women economically independent.
Deby said political parties and civilians should prepare for free elections by November 2024. He said despite difficult living conditions caused by humanitarian crises, including floods and intercommunal conflicts, Chad is still home to about 400,000 civilians fleeing conflicts in neighboring Sudan.
Deby was named head of an 18-month transitional council on April 21, 2021, following the death of his 68-year-old father from injuries sustained while visiting troops on the front line.
The junta’s transition to democracy expired in October 2022. However, the Inclusive and Sovereign National Dialogue, initiated by military leaders and held August 2022 to October 2022 in N’djamena, extended that transition by 24 months. The dialogue also determined Deby will be eligible to run for the presidency when elections are held in November 2024.
Timan Erdimi leads the Union of Resistance Forces, or UFR, a Chadian Rebel Group. He returned to Chad in August 2022, after 10 years in exile in Qatar, to participate in the national dialogue to pave the way for a return to democratic rule.
Erdimi told reporters Monday in Keoura, his hometown, that Deby has failed to put in place a committee to follow up on resolutions of the Doha peace talks and is not implementing resolutions of the national dialogue.
He said he wants the international community to be witnesses that Chad’s military government is not fully implementing a peace deal signed by more than 40 opposition groups in the Qatari capital, Doha, in August 2022. Erdimi said the military leader’s interest is to maintain a strong grip on power.
Erdimi said the central African state has been afflicted by hunger, poverty and armed conflict since Deby gained power as president of the Transitional Military Council in April 2021.
Chad’s government says it will respect its promise to return to civilian rule by November 2024.
Tama Ahamat, a political affairs lecturer at the University of N’djamena, said Chad’s fragmented opposition, which is made up of over 200 political parties and about 500 civil society groups, will find it difficult to beat Deby in an election. If Chad’s opposition and rights groups were united, Ahamat added, they could have made it clear during the national dialogue that Deby should not be eligible to run for the presidency.
Chad’s government says more than 1,400 representatives of rebel groups, civil society, trade unions, political parties and government officials attended the 2022 national dialogue in N’Djamena.
France, the European Union and the African Union have asked Deby to meet the November 2024 election deadline.