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Chad Government, Rebels Agree on Preliminary Peace Deal

Major rebel groups in Chad have agreed to a peace deal with the government following months of negotiations. But some say issues of disarmament and the assigning of government posts still need to be worked out. Kari Barber reports from VOA's West and Central Africa bureau in Dakar.

Rebel leader Amine Ben Barka has been a negotiator in talks between the leaders of Chad's four main rebel groups and the government.

He says as long as all sides follow through on their commitments and negotiate in good faith, he is optimistic the accord could bring a stop to fighting between government and rebel forces.

Previous attempts to negotiate peace have failed.

Chad's rebel groups have been fighting the government for several years. The rebels accuse the government of corruption and human rights abuses. In recent weeks, Chad has seen a decline in the fighting.

Mahamat Nouri, the leader of Chad's main rebel group, the Union of Forces for Democracy and Development, has said there are still problems that need to be sorted out for the peace deal to work, such as how to secure the rebels' safety after they are disarmed and how they will participate in the government.

Negotiator Barka says the accord calls for the creation of eight government posts to be given to the rebel side.

He says one of these will be vice prime minister.

Previous rebel demands called for someone from the movement to be named prime minister.

Government and rebel leaders say the official signing of the accord is to take place in a few days.

Paul Simon Handy, an analyst with Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies Paul says the situation in Chad has been aggravated by spill over from the Darfur conflict in neighboring Sudan.

"What we see in that triangle between Central African Republic, Chad and Sudan is what we call a conflict system," said Handy. "That means a complex set of interrelationships between the conflict in that region but also a huge amount of domestic problems which forms the fundamentals of domestic crises."

Chad's government has accused Sudan of backing the rebels in an effort to overthrow Chad's President Idriss Deby.

In the coming months, several thousand European Union peacekeepers are expected to be deployed in eastern Chad and Central African Republic.