Chad army says Idriss Deby, nation’s president for 30 years, killed in battle

Chad’s President Idriss Deby has died while visiting troops on the entrance line of a battle towards northern rebels, the military stated on Tuesday, the day after Deby was declared the winner of a presidential election.

Deby’s son, Mahamat Kaka, was named interim president by a transitional council of army officers, spokesman Azem Bermendao Agouna stated in a broadcast on state tv.

Deby, 68, got here to energy in a rise up in 1990 and was one in every of Africa’s longest-ruling leaders. He and his military have been seen as a dependable Western ally in a turbulent area contending with jihadists.

His marketing campaign stated on Monday he was becoming a member of troops on the entrance line after rebels based mostly throughout the northern frontier close to Libya superior a whole bunch of kilometres south towards Chad’s capital, N’Djamena.

The precise reason for loss of life was not but clear, however a European diplomatic supply stated Deby had been killed.

“A call to dialogue and peace is launched to all Chadians in the country and abroad in order to continue to build Chad together,” Bermendao stated, surrounded by a number of officers.

“The National Council of Transition reassures the Chadian people that all measures have been taken to guarantee peace, security and the republican order,” he stated.

Violence within the Sahel

Deby, whose opponents accused him of repressive rule, pushed by way of a new structure in 2018 that would have allowed him to remain in energy till 2033 – even because it reinstated time period limits.

He took the title of “Marshal” final 12 months and stated earlier than final week’s election, “I know in advance that I will win, as I have done for the last 30 years.”

Deby was dealing with mounting public discontent over his administration of Chad’s oil wealth and crackdowns on opponents.

French President Emmanuel Macron, seen with Deby in Pau, France, on Jan. 13, has spearheaded a global army and peacekeeping effort within the Sahel to attempt to preserve stability within the area. (Regis Duvignau/Reuters)

But within the election outcomes introduced on Monday, Deby was credited with 79 per cent of the vote, handing him a sixth time period in office. Several main opposition figures boycotted the ballot.

Deby’s loss of life is a blow to France, which had based mostly its Sahel counterterrorism operations in N’Djamena. Chad had introduced in February the deployment of 1,200 troops to enrich 5,100 French troopers within the space.

France, the previous colonial energy, has but to react officially to Deby’s loss of life.

Western nations have seen Deby as an ally within the battle towards Islamist extremist teams, together with Boko Haram within the Lake Chad Basin and teams linked to al-Qaeda and Islamic State within the Sahel.

Canada has been among the many Western nations involved in regards to the violence and instability within the Sahel area, sending peacekeeping troops to Mail in 2018-19. Canada additionally contributed greater than $280 million in developmental help to the so-called G5 Sahel, which contains Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger.

The latest improvement will doubtless trigger extra alarm in Paris and Washington.

“Deby had his hand in many things in the Sahel. His death disrupt things,” a senior regional diplomat advised Reuters.

Recent election not seen as free and honest by critics

Deby had joined the military within the Nineteen Seventies when Chad was going by way of a long-running civil battle. He acquired army coaching in France and returned to Chad in 1978, throwing his assist behind the president on the time, Hissène Habré, and finally changing into commander in chief of the armed forces.

He seized energy in 1990, main a insurgent military swathed in desert headgear in a three-week offensive launched from neighbouring Sudan to topple Habré, a man accused of instigating tens of 1000’s of political murders.

Over time, Deby himself can be seen by critics as an autocrat himself.

Succès Masra, a 38-year outdated opposition firebrand whose candidacy was rejected as a result of he didn’t meet the minimal age of 45, stated the current election was a masquerade.

The nation’s Supreme Court barred six others from contesting the election, while the runner-up within the final election in 2016, Saleh Kebzabo, and Ngarledji Yorongar, one other distinguished opposition chief, withdrew from the race in protest.

‘We nonetheless do not have the entire story’

Some overseas observers questioned how a head of state might have been killed, saying it solid doubt on his protecting guard. The Chadian army had solely acknowledged 5 deaths in weekend preventing, in which it stated it had killed 300 rebels.

“We still don’t have the whole story,” Laith Alkhouri, a worldwide intelligence adviser, advised The Associated Press. “It raises concerns regarding the security forces’ assessment of the clashes and their intelligence regarding the severity of the situation.”

Other analysts pointed to Deby’s lengthy historical past of visiting the battlefield as a former military commander himself.

“There’s no evidence to suggest this was a coup committed by his troops. Anyone who follows Deby knows he used to say ‘to lead troops you have to smell the gunpowder,”‘ tweeted Cameron Hudson with the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center.

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