Chad’s President Idriss Deby has been killed by FACT rebels on the frontline in the Sahel country’s north, where he had gone to visit soldiers.
The news were announced by the army spokesman.
“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.
The army said Deby had been commanding his army at the weekend as it battled against rebels who had launched a major incursion into the north of the country on election day.
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 shock announcement came a day after Deby, who came to power in a rebellion in 1990, won a sixth term, as per provisional results released on Monday. Deby took 79.3 percent of the vote in the April 11 presidential election, the results showed.
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.
His latest election victory had never been in doubt, with a divided opposition, boycott calls, and a campaign in which demonstrations were banned or dispersed.
However, the US embassy in N’Djamena had on Saturday ordered non-essential personnel to leave the country, warning of possible violence in the capital. Britain also urged its nationals to leave.
France’s embassy said in an advisory to its nationals in Chad that the deployment was a precaution and there was no specific threat to the capital.
The group, FACT, has a non-aggression pact with Khalifa Haftar, a military strongman who controls much of Libya’s east.
FACT, a group mainly made up of the Saharan Goran people, said in a statement on Sunday that it had “liberated” the Kanem region. Such claims in remote desert combat zones are difficult to verify.
The Tibesti mountains near the Libyan frontier frequently see fighting between rebels and the army, as well as in the northeast bordering Sudan. France carried out air raids in February 2019 to stop an incursion there.
In February 2008, a rebel assault reached the gates of the presidential palace before being pushed back with French backing.