MOSCOW, October 18 (RIA Novosti) - The government of the landlocked Central African nation of Chad stated Friday that their country had hosted Nigeria-Boko Haram negotiations in September, which resulted in a ceasefire and a planned hostage release.
"It was at the request of both parties that Chad has accepted the role of mediator and hosted the first contacts that took place on Sept. 14 and 30. During these meetings, the two sides have agreed in principle to resolve their differences through dialogue", the Foreign Ministry of Chad said in a statement as quoted by Xinhua.
"The Chadian government welcomes the establishment of dialogue between the Nigerian government and Boko Haram and calls on both parties to maintain the momentum," the statement reads.
The Nigerian side also confirmed the involvement of Chad in the talks. Hassan Tukur, the Principal Private Secretary to the President of Nigeria, said in an interview with Voice of America Hausa service that he had met with representatives of the Government of Chad as well as high-ranking members of the Boko Haram sect in N’Djamena, the capital of Chad, as reported by AllAfrica. Tukur added that the 219 missing schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram will be released as part of the deal.
"They've assured us they have the girls and they will release them," Tukur told BBC Focus on Africa. "I am cautiously optimistic", he added.
The schoolgirls will be released on Monday in Chad, Voice of America reports.
The government of Chad also called for peace and stability in the region. However, according to an Associated Press report, the negotiations are not yet over, and the fate of the 219 schoolgirls kidnapped six months ago is still undecided. Boko Haram, for its part, has not issued any comments to the media nor has it released official reports of the alleged deal.
The Islamic extremist group Boko Haram, which means “education is sinful”, has been operating since 2002, mainly in northern Nigeria where the militants declared a Caliphate this August, inspired by the Islamic State. The group has financial links with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and practices selective terror against the Nigerian police, military and officials, as well as kidnappings and mass killings of the civilian population.