April 5, 2009 (WASHINGTON) – The government of Chad has authorized an independent technical assessment mission, whose members have yet to be formally selected, to speak with the country’s armed opposition, according to planners of the initiative.
- Amb. Mahamoud Bechir (seated) authorizes the assessment, shown with Dr. Djime Adoum (center) of the Independent Commission for an Inclusive Dialogue and Nathalie Losson of Caring for Kaela, at the Embassy of Chad in USA, March 23, 2009
With tensions still running high along the militarized Chad-Sudan border, the technical assessment team aims to interview belligerents and mediators in order to examine the various already signed Chadian peace accords and assess why these have not brought a lasting peace.
The team will be composed of Chadian and international experts. It is mandated to assess five key peace efforts: the so-called August 13th Agreement regarding electoral reform, the Syrte Agreement signed by four major rebel groups, the Dakar Agreement with the Government of Sudan, the African Union mediation, and the EUFOR/MINURCAT international peacekeeping force.
“We are going to go back and see why they don’t work, and then see how they can be implemented,” said Djimé Adoum, coordinator of the Independent Commission for an Inclusive Dialogue (CIDI), which was formed during an inter-Chadian debate held in Paris in March 2008.
He said that authorization for the technical committee was the fruit of a 90 minute conversation he had held with President Idriss Deby last October in Canada. At that meeting, Deby agreed to the initiative in principle, but it formally gained approval at a signing ceremony March 23 in Washington conducted by Chadian Ambassador Mahamoud Adam Bechir acting under the direction of Minister of Foreign Affairs Moussa Faki Mahamat.
The US-based organization Caring for Kaela (CFK), whose executive director attended the signing ceremony, called the authorization “an unprecedented step towards peace,” saying that the government had never before authorized such an independent mission to speak with the rebels.
“Still a far cry from the ‘Inclusive Dialogue’ demanded by most national actors, the Chadian government’s approval of a Technical Assessment mission is the first stone on which the road to peace could be built,” said a statement from CFK.
CFK organized a multi-stakeholders conference in New York in October last year in collaboration with the United States Institute of Peace and the International Peace Institute. The international children’s organization sponsors education and community-level initiatives but also engages in national peace-building and international advocacy.
Though the assessment team plans to meet with Chadian rebel groups based in Darfur and eastern Chad, said Adoum, it is not actually authorized to speak in the name of the government, said an official in N’Djamena to Agence France Presse.
Experts would meet with the Darfur rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) as part of their assessment of the Dakar Agreement, said Adoum. This agreement had envisioned a process for ending the support that Chad and Sudan give to each other’s rebel groups. JEM, which is seen as particularly close to the government of Chad, has sometimes played a role in defending the Chadian regime against Sudan-backed rebel invasions.
But dialogue with other armed factions, political opposition, and international actors is also part of the team’s mandate.