Chad’s Catholic Bishops Clarify Their Withdrawal from National Inclusive Dialogue Sessions

Catholic Bishops in Chad. Credit: Courtesy Photo

Catholic Bishops have attributed their withdrawal from the National Inclusive Dialogue (DNI) sessions to their status of neutrality and the need “to keep an equal distance between the parties” in conflict in the North-Central African nation.

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 had been scheduled to last three weeks. 

The DNI that was suspended for a week, and resumed on August 30, is discussing institutional reform and a new constitution, which is to be put to a referendum.

As the gathering was getting underway after having resumed on August 30, members of the Episcopal Conference of Chad (CET) announced their withdrawal from the sessions. 

In their September 3 statement shared with ACI Africa, CET members said that “there has been no dialogue” in the DNI deliberations, and added, “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.”


In their latest statement dated Saturday, September 17 that was shared with ACI Africa, Catholic Bishops in Chad look back at the events following their initial withdrawal from the DNI sessions.

After a week of suspension and efforts to iron out the obstacles in order to allow those on the outside to join those on the inside, CET members say they have realized that the “conditions for listening to each other have not been met and the work of the DNI continues as before, despite the absence of the other actors.”

They underscore the need for an “inclusive” stakeholder “sincere” dialogue in resolving the country’s challenges. 

“As ministers accredited by God for the service of reconciliation (cf. 2 Cor 5:20), we firmly believe that dialogue is the way to reconciliation, provided that it is a sincere and common search for the truth, involving all parties,” CET members say, and add, “This is the guarantee of the inclusive character of this dialogue.”

“We do not consider it appropriate to continue to make up the numbers. We withdraw from the National Sovereign Inclusive Dialogue,” the Catholic Bishops further say in their September 17 statement. 

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They add, “The Catholic Priests and laity who are participating in this dialogue in the name of their various corporations can continue to defend and promote human and Christian values in the new institutions to be set up.”

“But we leave each one free in the name of his or her conscience to continue or not to participate in the Dialogue,” CET members further say.

They add, “We will continue to carry all the participants in this dialogue in our prayers and to work so that inclusiveness is not only a title of this dialogue, but that it is lived in everyday life by practicing justice and respect for diversity in all the instances of our social life, a sine qua non condition for greater cohesion between the sons and daughters of Chad.”

“May God take us in grace and bless us,” CET members implore in their September 17 statement shared with ACI Africa.

They further seek to clarify their repeated withdrawal from DNI sessions, and begin with acknowledging the value of the gathering of the various stakeholders.


“Considering the importance of this dialogue compared to other forums, the Catholic Church wanted to participate, not only through the Catholic lay faithful, members of the different corporations who delegated them, but through an official delegation composed of three lay persons, one Priest and three bishops according to the quota granted by organizing committee of DNI,” CET members say.

They add, “We realized from the outset that the Sovereign Inclusive National Dialogue, both in its form and in its management, was off to a bad start and many of the participants were frustrated.”

CET members regret the fact that there was “a certain desire for one group to take control of the process, whereas it was meant to be an exercise in listening to each other with mutual respect.”

“Conscious of our status as pastors, which invites us to keep an equal distance between the parties, we expressed our reservations by suspending our participation in the sessions,” Catholic Bishops in Chad further say, making reference to their September 3 announcement.

Amid the highlighted challenges and the decision to suspend their participation in the DNI sessions, CET members say they took advantage of the “time to continue our mediation work with other religious leaders and Elders in order to restore the inclusive character of the Dialogue.”

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They express their awareness of the fact that “this suspension of our participation in the DNI has been interpreted differently.”

In an effort to clarify their situation in relation to their suspended participation in DNI sessions, Catholic Bishops in Chad say, “We would like to reassure everyone that it only involves the official delegation of the Catholic Church. We are not minimizing the importance of the issues discussed, but the rules were not clear.”

DNI, which was originally scheduled for February but was repeatedly postponed, was 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.

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.

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.