Egypt pardons, releases jailed Chadian rebel

N’DJAMENA (AFP): A jailed Chadian rebel has been pardoned by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and released from prison, his brother and Chad’s government have said.

Tom Erdimi, twin brother of Union of Resistance Forces (UFR) leader Timan Erdimi, was released on Tuesday after several months’ imprisonment in Egypt.

He should return to Chad “at the end of the week,” his brother told AFP on Wednesday.

The Erdimi brothers, nephews of former Chadian president Idriss Deby Itno, were key regime figures in the 1990s.

Tom Erdimi was director of Deby’s cabinet in 1991, and in charge of certain oil-related activities in the central African state.

He and his brother rebelled against Deby in 2005, launching several offensives aimed at overthrowing the government, including one that earned them a death sentence in absentia while they were in exile overseas.

Tom’s release from prison was one of the conditions for the UFR joining a “national dialogue” in N’Djamena between civil society, opposition parties, trade unions, rebel groups and the military government of Mahamat Idriss Deby — son of the former president, who was killed during a military operation in 2021.

Government spokesman Abderaman Koulamallah told AFP that Ermini was “freed and surrounded by his children,” adding that the younger Deby had supported Tom’s release though maintained the matter was “an Egyptian affair.”

In 2021, Chad’s junta granted a “general amnesty” to rebel groups, saying it wanted to “clean the slate” and move on.

Mahamat Deby has said power will be returned to the people after an 18-month transition period and a national dialogue meant to pave the way for “free and democratic elections.”