Chadian president killed after 30 years in power

Henrietta Strickland
April 20, 2021

Veteran President Idriss Deby died from battle wounds sustained in the fight against rebels in the country's north, the army said on Tuesday, only a day after he was declared the victor of an April 11 election.

The cause of death was not yet clear.

"The column was totally decimated", army spokesman Azim Bermandoa Agouna said in a statement late on Saturday.

The military council will be led by the late president's son, Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno, 37, a four-star general.

"The National Council of Transition reassures the Chadian people that all measures have been taken to guarantee peace, security and the republican order", Bermendao said.

The central African nation that held presidential elections last week has had a long history of rebellions during the 30-year reign of President Idriss Deby Itno, who is expected to remain in power.

A week ago, members of the Libya-based rebel group Force for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), claimed to have seized garrisons near Chad's northern borders with Niger and Libya "without resistance".

Deby's death comes just one day after he was declared the victor of a sixth term in office, marking over 30 years in power.

Chad's president Idriss Deby is killed 'while fighting rebels on the front line'
Chadian President Idriss Deby dies after clashes with rebels

Mr Déby was a long-time ally of France and other Western powers in the battle against jihadist groups in the Sahel region of Africa.

Ayo Sogunro, a Nigerian lawyer and fellow at the South Africa-based Center for Human Rights, said that under Chadian law the term of an incumbent president who dies is completed not by family members but by the National Assembly.

A regional diplomat said the naming of Deby's son as interim president was problematic as the speaker of parliament should have taken power on his death.

Chad's government has been forced to cut back public spending in recent years because of the l ow price of oil, its main export, sparking labour strikes. "His death disrupt things", a senior regional diplomat told Reuters.

Chad's fearsome soldiers also have long battled militants from the extremist group Boko Haram which started in northeastern Nigeria and spread to neighboring countries including Chad. It was not known why the president would have visited the frontlines in northern Chad or participated in ongoing clashes with the rebels who opposed his rule.

However, some foreign observers questioned how a head of state could have been killed, saying it cast doubt on his protective guard.

"There's no evidence to suggest this was a coup committed by his troops".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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