Reform Party Protest Prohibited, “Acts of Civil Disobedience” Planned by Civil Society
N’DJAMENA–As the National Inclusive Dialogue approaches, many voices are being raised demanding certain conditions before the dialogue happens. While many of them don’t seem unreasonable, the Transitional Military Council (TMC) ruling in N’Djamena doesn’t seem to be listening. Despite many demands, and the initial promises made by the TMC, the unresponsiveness of the government is feeding a growing suspicion that the entire transition period was designed simply to install Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno as ruler of Chad.
Over thirty different groups have announced their opposition to the National Inclusive Dialogue based on the refusal of the TMC to respond to the conditions the groups set for participation in the Dialogue. The conditions vary a bit, but many are common to all the groups. Equality of participants in the Dialogue, changes to the Transitional Charter, the sovereignty of the Dialogue, and a promise that the current members of the TMC will not run for election are common demands that until now have been ignored or implicitly rejected. The basic reasons for the conditions and opposition are the same – the parties involved don’t trust a transition to democracy run by a continuation of the government that held power for the last thirty years.
So who has spoken out against the National Inclusive Dialogue so far?
The president of the “Transformers” party, Succès Masra, told Chadians to “prepare for the worst to avoid the worst and obtain the best for our country”. For him, if the conditions are not met before August 20th, the people of Chad are “entitled to create their own consensual legal framework, their charter, their government with their army which will have made the choice of the people”.
Everyone must choose their side, between those who want an armed confiscation system at the service of a few and those who want a justice system at the service of all.Succès Masra
The president of the Socialist Party without Borders, Yaya Dillo Djerou, called the Doha agreements a “deal of shame” and “an exercise in deceit”. This may have something to do with the fact that each delegate representing a rebel group in Doha received 10,000 euros, while each rebel group was given 20,000 euros. The opponent and relative of the Deby clan called on the people to “rise as one man to block the road to the next masquerade” and to be attentive to the civil society who would announce specific actions in the near future.
A coalition of civil society members formed recently includes Wakit Tamma, the Reflection and Action Group for the June 1st Appeal, the party Les Démocrates, Une nation pour tous, UTPC, COP, FNC, Un nouveau jour, MPUD , REPEP and the Diaspora Platform. They have announced actions beginning with “civil disobedience” starting today and a possible large protest on the 19th of August. According to Avocksouma Djona, leader of the Les Démocrates party, “there will be no room for contradictory debates because the system in place seeks to perpetuate the monarchization of power”.
And of course we can’t forget the eighteen rebel groups, who after five months of discussion have finally refused to sign the peace agreement and have joined forces in protest of “bad faith” on the part of the TMC. “We have asked for changes to the charter governing the transition to define with precision the role of the transition government. We have noticed that this agreement will not lead us to a consensual, inclusive and sovereign dialogue“, states Abakar Tollimi, the leader of the National Council of Resistance for Democracy.
What can we expect from this Dialogue? I think it’s fair to say that the people of N’Djamena can expect protests and repression, as happened in previous forums and dialogues. If what the civil society is saying is true, then most actions opposing the government will be prohibited, while gatherings and marches supporting the government will be encouraged. The parties in the Dialogue will likely follow the agenda laid out for them and present their conclusions regardless of the dissenting voices outside.
This is already a reality as the sit-in of the Reform Party that was to demand justice for it’s president and “all Chadians” has been canceled by the minister of security on the grounds that it is “likely to disturb the public order”. Yet there are reports that free gasoline was given to those who met the president of the TMC on his “triumphal return” from Doha, and marches supporting the transition have not yet been canceled. Is it any surprise that the civil society of Chad is denouncing injustice?
With over thirty groups already crying foul over the National Inclusive Dialogue which has not started yet, can it succeed in creating a new era of political change in Chad? We certainly hope so, but must admit that the odds are definitely against it. Considering previous forums and dialogues, most of which have been forgotten by many Chadians, the chances of a dialogue without sincerity bringing about lasting positive change for the people of Chad are slim to none.