Chad FM resigns citing disagreements with ruling military gov’t

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Mahamat Zene Cherif accuses the ruling government of sidelining him from the dialogue process aimed at paving the way for elections.

Chad’s interim Foreign Affairs Minister Mahamat Zene Cherif has said he was stepping down because of disagreements with the ruling military government as it attempts to open dialogue with rebels and end military rule.

Cherif’s resignation came on Monday as talks launched by government leader General Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno are taking place in Qatar’s capital Doha with various rebel and opposition groups. The talks are aimed at paving the way for elections after the military seized power last year.

“For several months, my commitment and my desire to serve my country have been thwarted by parallel initiatives and actions by certain members of your cabinet and of the government, undertaken without my knowledge and on your instructions”, Cherif said in a letter to the president that was posted on his Twitter account.

The 58-year-old did not refer directly to the talks, but said the situation had stripped his department of its prerogatives and kept him in a “mere background role”.

The talks, which began on August 20 after repeated delays, are being boycotted by many opposition parties, rebels and civil society groups.

Chad’s transitional authorities signed a peace pact with more than 30 rebel and opposition factions last month in which they agreed to join a national dialogue after years of turmoil.

The vast Central African country has been under military rule since President Idriss Deby – the father of current de facto leader General Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno – was killed on a battlefield in April 2021 while visiting troops fighting rebels, shortly after winning an election extending his 30-year rule.

The military installed his son as interim president, and he initiated talks with rebel groups that had long challenged his father’s regime.

He heads a military council that said it would oversee an 18-month transition to civilian rule, but has shown little intention of meeting the deadline.

Regional and international powers have been pushing for a swift return to democracy in Chad, which has long been a Western ally against armed group fighters.

Cherif was named foreign affairs minister for the transitional government in May 2021.

Chad, one of the world’s poorest countries, has endured repeated uprisings and unrest since independence from France in 1960.

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