© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Chadian President Idriss Deby at the G5 Sahel summit in Nouakchott, Mauritania
By Mahamat Ramadane
N’DJAMENA (Reuters) – Chadian President Idriss Deby died while visiting troops on the front lines of a fight against rebels in the north, the army said on Tuesday, the day after Deby was declared victorious. the presidential election.
Deby’s son, Mahamat Kaka, has been appointed interim president by a transition board of military officers, spokesman Azem Bermendao Agouna said in a broadcast on state television.
Deby, 68, came to power in a rebellion in 1990 and was one of Africa’s oldest leaders. He and his army were seen as a reliable Western ally in a turbulent region plagued by jihadists.
His campaign said Monday he was joining troops on the front line after rebels based across Libya’s northern border advanced hundreds of kilometers south towards the capital N’Djamena. .
The exact cause of death is not yet clear, but a European diplomatic source said he was killed.
“A call for dialogue and peace is launched to all Chadians in the country and abroad in order to continue to build Chad together”, declared Bermendao, surrounded by several officers.
“The National Transitional Council reassures the Chadian people that all measures have been taken to guarantee peace, security and republican order,” he said.
Deby, whose opponents accused him of being a repressive regime, passed a new constitution in 2018 that would have allowed him to stay in power until 2033 – while restoring term limits.
He took the title of “Marshal” last year and said ahead of last week’s election: “I know in advance that I will win, as I have for 30 years”.
He faced growing public discontent with his management of Chad’s oil wealth and the repression of opponents.
But in the election results announced on Monday, Deby was credited with 79% of the vote, earning him a sixth term. Several opposition figures boycotted the ballot.
Western countries see Deby as an ally in the fight against extremist Islamist groups, including Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin and groups linked to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State in the Sahel.
His death is a blow to France, which had based its counterterrorism operations in the Sahel in the Chadian capital, N’Djaména.
Chad announced in February the deployment of 1,200 troops to complete 5,100 French soldiers in the region. France, a former colonial power, has not yet reacted officially.
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