Chad’s President Idriss Deby has died of wounds sustained at the front line in the country’s north, where he had gone to visit soldiers battling rebels,according to the armed forces .The announcement came a day after provisional election results projected he would win a sixth term in office
Deby, 68, “has just breathed his last defending the sovereign nation on the battlefield” over the weekend, army spokesman General Azem Bermandoa Agouna said in a statement read out on state television on Tuesday, a day after Deby was declared the winner of a presidential election.
The exact circumstances of Deby’s death were not immediately clear. The army said the president had been commanding his army at the weekend as it battled rebels who had launched a major incursion into the north of the country on election day on April 11.
Agouna also said a military council led by the late president’s 37-year-old son, four-star General Mahamat Idriss Deby, would replace him. A curfew has been imposed and the country’s borders have been shut in the wake of the president’s death.
Experts say that under Chadian law, the speaker of parliament should have taken power after Deby’s death and not his son.
Meanwhile, authorities said a state funeral will be held on Friday. Heads of state and government of “friendly countries” will attend the ceremony in N’Djamena, before Deby is laid to rest in his home region in the country’s far east.
The shock announcement came a day after Deby, who came to power in a rebellion in 1990, won a sixth term. Provisional results released on Monday showed Deby had taken 79.3 percent of the vote.
The president postponed his victory speech to supporters and instead went to visit Chadian soldiers battling rebels, according to his campaign manager.
The rebel group Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), which is based across the northern frontier with Libya, attacked a border post in the provinces of Tibesti and Kanem on election day and then advanced hundreds of kilometres south.
The government and parliament have been dissolved. A curfew has also been imposed and the borders have been shut.
An army officer by training, he came to power in 1990 through an armed uprising. He was a long-time ally of France and other Western powers in the battle against jihadist groups in the Sahel region of Africa.