The transitional authorities in Chad on Tuesday released the first of some 250 members of armed groups they’d promised to set free under an amnesty.
The amnesty programme is aimed at fostering dialogue after the battlefield death of President Idriss Deby last April.
Chad’s Justice Minister Ahmat Mahamat Alhabo led a short ceremony at Klessoum prison near the capital N’Djamena where 22 detainees who’d been convicted of taking up arms against the government in the past 10 years were released.
Rebel groups have been invited to join national peace-building talks which are due to start mid-February.
But the main group; the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT) said it would only take part if the interim government made gestures of peace.
“This pardon agreement is to be welcomed because it is a pledge to restore trust between the sons and daughters of Chad and to bring about much-needed social peace,” the minister told reporters after handing each prisoner an amnesty certificate.
Chad’s transitional military council is led by his son, Mahamat Idriss Déby, who said the national talks are a necessary precursor to presidential and legislative elections.