Chad’s rebels unify in bid to overthrow Déby

Eight rebel groups in Chad have joined together to form a unified insurgency that is preparing fresh military action, one of its members told Agence France-Presse on Monday.

The leaders of the rebel groups signed a deal in Sudan, just over the Chadian border, to form the alliance called the Union of Resistance Forces, said one of its leaders, Ali Gueddei.

“Our objective remains the liberation of the Chadian people and to overthrow the dictatorship,” Gueddei told AFP by telephone, adding that all the rebel chiefs participated in the signing at Hadjer Marfaine in Sudan.

A rebel offensive on the Chadian capital, Ndjamena, in February reached the gates of President Idriss Déby Itno’s palace before being repulsed.

The offensive of the main rebel group, General Mahamat Nouri’s National Alliance, crumbled when the various rebel factions disagreed over who would take political power once Déby was overthrown.

Nouri told AFP on Monday that the formation of a unified rebel force was a “big step” towards the rebellion’s stated aim of overthrowing Déby.

“It’s historic. It’s the first time that so many movements have been gathered in the one structure,” said Nouri, the leader of the Union of Forces for Democracy and Development (UFDD), one of the signatory movements.

“It’s a big step. We agreed to create a new union. We are all capable of understanding each other to defend the general interests beyond the quarrels of people with egotistical interests.”

The new movement has not yet named a leader.

But “this time, we will designate a chief”, said rebel figurehead Nouri.

“A leader must be designated by consensus … we have been discussing this for five months … most of the work has been done. We hope to reach an agreement quickly,” Nouri said.

“Our objective is to get to Ndjamena, but the idea is not to repeat the experience of February. At the time, we weren’t defeated by the enemy but we didn’t know how to designate a leader,” he said. — AFP

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