a major rebel back in Chad

A rebel leader imprisoned for two years in Egypt returned to Chad on Friday after his movement, led by his brother, joined the national reconciliation dialogue with the military junta, noted an AFP journalist.

Tom Erdimi, 67, arrived in N’Djamena at the end of the morning aboard an EgyptAir flight, and was welcomed in particular by his twin brother Timan Erdimi, co-founder with him and commander-in-chief of the Union of resistance forces (UFR), one of the three main armed rebel movements.

After the UFR had long accused the Chadian authorities of having “negotiated” with Egypt the arrest and detention of Tom Erdimi, Timan had notably demanded his return to the country for the participation of his group in the Inclusive National Dialogue and Souverain (DNIS), launched on August 20 but which is progressing very laboriously for the time being.

When he got off the plane, Tom Erdimi thanked “the Chadians (…) who mobilized” to “facilitate (his) release” and “in particular” his brother and “the president of the Transitional Military Council”, the young general Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno.

The latter proclaimed himself President of the Republic on April 20, 2021, at the head of a group of 15 generals, on the announcement of the death of his father Idriss Déby Itno, killed at the front against rebels after leading this Central African country with an iron fist for 30 years.

Wearing the traditional ample white boubou, chechia screwed on the head, Tom Erdimi was warmly welcomed by many relatives and sympathizers, in the presence of two government ministers appointed by the junta.

He called for “peace and reconciliation, in a democratic system”, a month after the start of the work of the DNIS and 15 days before its planned closure.

Nothing has filtered to date on the conditions of the release of Tom Erdimi in Cairo after a pardon from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi.

As soon as his father’s death was announced, Mahamat Déby had promised the Chadians and the international community, which immediately endorsed him, to return power to civilians through “free and democratic elections” after an 18-month transition, renewable once, and a great dialogue of national reconciliation including all the oppositions, political and armed.

But the majority of opposition parties and civil society organizations grouped within a platform, Wakit Tamma, as well as two of the three most powerful and feared armed groups, boycott the DNIS. They accuse the military – Mahamat Déby in the first place – of trying to stay at the head of the country by only talking to people in power or close to him.

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