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Chad President Deby dies on battlefield: Army

Chad’s President Idriss Deby Itno died on Tuesday from wounds sustained in battle after three decades in power, the Army said, opening a period of uncertainty in a country that is a key strategic ally of the West.

His son was immediately named transitional leader as head of a military council and both the government and parliament were dissolved, but the Army vowed “free and democratic” elections after an 18-month transitional period.

Sixth term

The shock news of Mr. Deby’s death came only the day after the 68-year-old career military man was proclaimed the winner of a presidential election that had given him a sixth term in office. The Army also announced a curfew and border closures.

Mr. Deby had ruled Chad with an iron fist since taking power on the back of a coup in 1990 but was a key ally in the West’s anti-jihadist campaign in the troubled Sahel region.

The Army said Mr. Deby had been commanding his forces at the weekend as they fought rebels who had launched a major incursion into the north of the country on election day, April 11.

Mr. Deby “has just breathed his last breath defending the sovereign nation on the battlefield”, Army spokesman General Azem Bermandoa Agouna said in a statement read out on state television.

The Army said a military council led by the late President’s 37-year-old son Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, a four-star General, would replace him.

The council has already met to draw up a transitional charter, General Agouna said, without elaborating.

Mr. Deby’s son oversaw his father’s security as head of the elite presidential guard and often appeared alongside him, wearing the force’s red beret, dark glasses and military fatigues.

On Monday, the Army had claimed a “great victory” in its battle against the rebels from neighbouring Libya, the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT).

FACT, which waged its attacks in the provinces of Tibesti and Kanem, had claimed in a statement that Mr. Deby had been wounded — a report that could not be confirmed.

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Printable version | May 13, 2021 9:40:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/chad-president-deby-dies-on-battlefield-army/article34370322.ece

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