Fighting has flared up again in the Central African nation of Chad. Rebel forces seeking the ouster of President Idriss Deby are on the offensive, and despite recent defeats they vow to continue their attacks. The surge in violence threatens stability in the entire region.
The rebels have a list of demands, including power-sharing arrangements, an “inclusive national debate” on Chad’s future, and new elections to end what they call years of corrupt and autocratic rule in the oil-rich, mostly desert nation. The Chadian government dismisses the rebels as mercenaries in the pay of its neighbor and rival, Sudan.
The renewed fighting has raised tensions and created turmoil through eastern Chad, an area that is home to hundreds of thousands of refugees from embattled Darfur, as well as displaced Chadians. It also has drawn in European Union peacekeepers, who were fired on this month while guarding refugee camps.
The rebels have a decided ability to fight and flee to fight again another day. Their offensive is the fourth in six months. But they lack the political credentials to deliver on promises to do a better job of running the country than the current government and to make Chad more democratic and representative of its people’s wishes.
All rebel factions should cease their military operations and seek a way to return to Chad to reenter the political process through dialogue with the government. To this end, President Deby and other leaders should facilitate the political re-entry process for the rebels and open lines of communication with them. And all parties should work to guarantee the security and freedom of action of humanitarian workers and foreign peacekeepers helping the many refugees and internally displaced persons in the region.