By John Ikani
The military junta in Chad has set August 20 for a national reconciliation dialogue that has been postponed several times since it took power 15 months ago.
A decree signed by Prime Minister Albert Pahimi Padacké announcing the date was read by government spokesperson Abdraman Koulamallah on the national broadcaster.
Following the death of President Idriss Déby Itno, who was killed at the front against rebels in April 2021, his son, the young General Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno, was proclaimed president at the head of a Transitional Military Council of 15 generals.
Initially, the council had said it would oversee an 18-month transition to democratic rule, but it has shown little sign of organising elections as that deadline nears.
Deby has presented the national dialogue as the first step towards planning a vote. It would, in theory, include armed groups but the conditions for their participation have not yet been agreed upon.
The military is increasingly coming under domestic and international pressure to return the country to civilian rule.
Opposition leader Succes Masra urged the transitional leader last month to explain why the government had been unable to organise the dialogue, which was supposed to take place in May.
US Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Bob Menendez has warned that the US will “hold to account” Mr Déby and the ruling junta over the transition.
A prominent protest movement has called for protests on Saturday to demand the junta give assurances that its members will not stand in elections due in 2023.