Chad’s Released Rebels Demand Leader’s Freedom


Alhadj Barh was reunited with his wife after spending over two years in jail for fighting in a rebel army accused of killing Chad’s former president, Idriss Deby. In March, Chad’s interim president, Mahamat Idriss Deby, pardoned 380 jailed members of the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), a rebel group accused of killing his father. Barh was among a group of pardoned detainees released in early April.

Barh expressed his willingness to help facilitate peace if the government pursued an inclusive approach. He stated that they were not bullies and would actively contribute to national reconciliation if the situation changed. The military government led by the younger Deby has launched peace talks with various rebel groups who had long challenged his father’s regime, but FACT has not taken part, insisting the transitional authorities first free its members.

While hundreds have been pardoned, most of the group’s senior leadership, including leader Mahamat Mahadi Ali, remain in custody. Another newly released detainee, former maths teacher and FACT member Ouckonga Guelmine Kemnda, said calls for unity would ring hollow without their release. He added that when they wanted to talk to someone, they had to stay open.

The transitional authorities have not commented on the detainees’ statements or the outlook for the continuing peace negotiations. The government is set to stay in office at least through elections slated for October 2024. In August 2022, government representatives signed an agreement and began engaging in negotiations in what was called a “pre-dialogue” with hundreds of rebels and civil society society, with the Qatari government as mediator.