The rebel group Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT) has said it is willing discuss a ceasefire, days after Chadian president Idriss Déby was killed in fighting between government forces and rebels in the restive north of the country.
“FACT is ready to observe a ceasefire for a political settlement that respects the independence and sovereignty of Chad and does not endorse a coup d’état,” FACT spokesman Kingabe Ogouzeimi de Tapol told Reuters newswire on Sunday.
Déby, a commander who ruled Chad with an iron fist for 30 years, went to visit troops who were fighting FACT in the northern part of the country. The rebels had crossed the northern Libyan border on 11 April, calling for Déby to leave office.
The president had just won his sixth election and was due to return to N’Djamena, the capital, for a victory party when he was wounded. He died of his wounds on Monday.
FACT fighters advanced to within around 300 km of the capital before the Chadian army pushed them back.
The rebel declaration comes after the Chadian air force bombed their positions on Saturday, which was confirmed by both sides.
The Chadian military said it had “annihilated” the rebels.
Opposition presses for civilian rule
A military council headed by Déby’s son, Mahamat Idriss Déby, seized power after his death and dissolved the parliament. The council has said it will oversee an 18-month transition.
The African Union expressed “grave concern” about a military takeover in Chad. Niger President Mohamed Bazoum and Mauritania President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani are the AU mediators in the crisis, while the United Nations are speaking with both sides.
France and other allies have backed a mixed civilian-military compromise.
Opposition parties in Chad called the younger Déby’s move a coup d’état, and said they would not accept a “monarchy”.
Some members of the opposition are reportedly looking to support a transition civilian president with a military vice president or prime minister.
This compromise looks similar to the one in Mali, where a coup d’état last August resulted in a civilian president appointed with a vice president from the military, a move the Malian opposition is still concerned about.
“Most of us are in favour of cohabitation between the military, politicians and civil society,” said Mahamat Ahmat Alhabo, president of the opposition PLD party, calling the Malian model “very inspiring.”
Any changes made to the current arrangement will need cooperation from the military council.
While council spokesman Azem Bermendao Agouna indicated it was open to discussions, he added: “The army will solve all the major challenges and will organise free and transparent elections.”