Catholic Bishops Withdraw from Chad’s National Inclusive Dialogue, Cite Lack of “dialogue”

Catholic Bishops in Chad. Credit: Courtesy Photo

Catholic Bishops in Chad have, in a collective statement, announced their withdrawal from the country’s National Inclusive Dialogue (DNI) initiative, decrying the lack of “dialogue”.

On August 21, more than 1,400 delegates from the military government, civil society, opposition parties, trade unions and rebel groups gathered in N'Djamena for the DNI that is scheduled to last three weeks. They are expected to discuss institutional reform and a new constitution, which is to be put to a referendum.

In their Saturday, September 3 statement shared with ACI Africa, members of the Episcopal Conference of Chad (CET) say, “The Catholic Church, whose mission is to work for reconciliation, justice and peace, felt concerned and gave particular importance to this dialogue by taking part with a delegation made up of bishops, priests and lay people.”

However, CET members say, “there has been no dialogue” in the ongoing deliberations of DNI.

“This is why we are forced to suspend our participation in the sessions so as not to endorse the control of one group over the dialogue process,” Catholic Bishops in Chad further say.


They note that “dialogue is based on listening to each other, and the verb to dialogue can be summed up as follows: to come closer, to express oneself, to listen to each other, to look at each other, to get to know each other, to try to understand each other, to look for points of contact.” 

“We have the impression that we are witnessing an electoral campaign with, on the one hand, those who support change and a renewal of the political class and, on the other hand, those who block everything and want to continue as before by putting in place a skillfully orchestrated machine,” Catholic Bishops in the crossroads of North and Central African nation say.

DNI, which was originally scheduled for February but was repeatedly postponed, is being held less than two weeks after the Chadian junta and 40 rebel groups signed an agreement in Doha.

In April 2021, President Idriss Déby Itno who had been at the helm of the country since 1990 died after succumbing to injuries from a battle with the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), a dissident army rebel group in the Northern part of the country.

Following his death, a transitional council of military officers led by Deby's son, Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno, as interim president, started overseeing Chad’s transition period for the next 18 months.

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The council has published a charter that defines the role of members expected to be appointed to the national transitional council, a charter that has been rejected by opposition parties in the country.

In their two-page collective statement, Catholic Bishops in Chad say, “This dialogue, which is both political and social, must first and foremost bring together political actors and those of civil society, many of whom are still outside.”

“Together with other religious leaders and some wise men, we took the initiative to offer our services for mediation in order to integrate those who are absent,” CET members say, and add, “But as we move forward, we see that the inclusive and sovereign nature of this dialogue is eroding.”

“As we continue to mediate with those outside, some participants have left the dialogue or are threatening to leave it in protest at the confused manner in which the rules of procedure were adopted and the totally bizarre way in which consensus was reached in the appointment of the presidium,” the Catholic Church leaders explain.

They note that Chadians “have high expectations of this dialogue, because the conclusions should make it possible to re-establish the constitutional order broken with the unexpected death of the President of the Republic.”


“It should also enable all the sons and daughters of Chad to agree on a new social contract, the basis of which will be justice and good governance, the guarantees of true peace,” CET members say, adding that they are still available to “continue to offer our services in any further reconciliation efforts that we deem sincere.”

“Peace is a gift from God, but it is also a work of justice on the part of men,” they further say, and add, “We pray unceasingly for the conversion of hearts hardened by selfish interests and we implore the Almighty God for peace for our country.”

They further implore, “May God bless our country and all its inhabitants.”

In July 2021, CET members advocated for “inclusive national dialogue” that can bring together stakeholders in the country’s socio-political life.

In December 2021, the Catholic Church leaders said all the conditions necessary for “a credible and sincere” dialogue in the North-Central African nation of Chad had not been met.

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“For many of our fellow citizens, the process of inclusive national dialogue represents a great hope for ensuring lasting peace in our country,” the Catholic Bishops said in their message dated 10 December 2021.

They urged all the transitional institutions “to listen to the expectations of the Chadian people in the implementation of the transitional roadmap.”

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.