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President of Chad dies 'in battle' a day after winning sixth term in office

He served in the role for three decades.

Chad's President Idriss Deby Itno
Chad's President Idriss Deby Itno
Image: Lemouton Stephane/ABACA/PA

THE PRESIDENT OF Chad has died a day after being proclaimed the winner of an election that granted him a sixth term in office.

The 68-year-old died from wounds sustained in battle after three decades in power, the country’s army said.

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.

The army also announced a curfew and border closures.

Deby 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 Sahel region.

The army said 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, 11 April.

An army spokesman said Deby “breathed his last breath defending the sovereign nation on the battlefield”.

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.

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 Deby had been wounded – a report that was initially not confirmed.

Deby was among the world’s longest-serving leaders.

Provisional results on Monday showed him winning re-election with almost 80% of the vote against nine challengers.

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His victory had never been in doubt, with a divided opposition, boycott calls, and a campaign in which demonstrations were banned or dispersed.

He had campaigned for the latest election on a promise of bringing peace and security to the troubled region, but his pledges were undermined by the rebel incursion.

The US embassy in N’Djamena had on Saturday ordered non-essential personnel to leave the country, warning of possible violence in N’Djamena.

Britain also urged its citizens to leave, although France said in an advisory that there was no specific threat to the capital.

© AFP 2021

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