Chad’s government releases jailed rebels and opposition figures

Former member of the armed MPRD peace and reconstruction movement among those freed.

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Chad President Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno

Chad’s military-led government on Tuesday released 22 rebels and opposition figures who had been jailed for treason, in the first round of an amnesty, an AFP journalist reported.

Announced at the end of November for 296 rebels and political dissidents, the amnesty was a pre-condition set by opposition groups for joining a forum on the troubled country’s future.

Former Chad President Idriss Deby Itno

President Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, 37, who took the reins after his father Idriss Deby Itno was killed fighting insurgents last April, proposed the round table after calling for a national dialogue to include the rebels.

Conditions set by the rebels include the release of prisoners of war, a general amnesty for all political-military figures and the return of rebel property seized by the government. Outside Klessom prison, near the capital N’Djamena, Justice Minister Mahamat Ahmat Alhabo told AFP the prisoner releases “are a first step towards the inclusive national dialogue.”

The talks are scheduled for February 15 and intended to lead to a new constitution, presidential and parliamentary elections.

Former member of the armed MPRD peace and reconstruction movement, Adolphe Djelassem Mbaibe, was among those freed after being arrested in 2020.

“The CMT (Transitional Military Council) has kept its word and set us free and this has to apply to all the other rebels,” he told AFP.

The general amnesty includes 257 members of armed groups jailed mainly for “terrorism” after a 2019 offensive trying to overthrow the regime. It also concerns 39 people sentenced for harming state integrity or crimes of opinion.

Rebel leaders are not included because they were amnestied in 2018.

The older Deby, like his son a career military officer, seized power in 1990 and governed the central-north African country with an iron fist for 30 years.

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