Idriss Déby Itno’s national funeral will take place on Friday. The death of the president, in power for 30 years and a key partner of the West against the jihadists in the Sahel, opens a period of uncertainty in Chad where the rebels have promised to march on the capital N’Djamena.
A Transitional Military Council (CMT) chaired by General Mahamat Idriss Déby, 37, son of the late president and until then head of the formidable Presidential Guard, praetorian guard of the regime, dissolved the government and the National Assembly. This CMT swore that new institutions would emerge after “free and democratic” elections in a year and a half.
“An essential ally in the fight against terrorism in the Sahel”
Mahamat Idriss Déby appointed the 15 generals who make up the CMT. In this decree signed by the son of the late president, follow, in addition to his, the names of 14 generals known to be in the circle of the most faithful of the Head of State.
The rebels, who have been leading an offensive against the Chadian regime for nine days, have promised to march on N’Djamena and “categorically” rejected this military council. “We intend to continue the offensive,” assured Kingabé Ogouzeimi de Tapol, spokesperson for the Front pour l ‘alternation et la concorde au Tchad (FACT).
France “is losing a courageous friend”, announced the Eysée in a press release, stressing the importance of a “peaceful transition” and its “firm attachment to the stability and territorial integrity” of Chad. The head of French diplomacy Jean-Yves Le Drian called for a military transition of “limited duration” which leads to a “civil and inclusive government”. The French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly, for her part, affirmed that France “is losing an essential ally in the fight against terrorism in the Sahel”.
After having dismissed by intimidation or violence some rare tenors of a divided opposition, Marshal Déby was proclaimed Monday evening – the announcement of his injury had not yet been made public – winner of the presidential election of April 11 for a sixth term, with 79.32% of the vote, an announcement ahead of schedule.
This career soldier, then rebel who had seized power by arms in 1990, never ceased to present himself, often in battle-dress, as a “warrior”. He was seriously injured when he went to direct himself, at the age of 68, the fighting against a column of rebels infiltrated from Libya.
A curfew has been established
Marshal Déby “took the lead in the heroic fight against the terrorist hordes from Libya. He was injured during the clashes and died once he was repatriated to N’Djamena ”: Tuesday, a spokesperson announced the news on state television.
The CMT “chaired by Lieutenant General Mahamat Idriss Déby, guarantees national independence, territorial integrity, national unity, respect for international treaties and agreements and ensures the transition for a period of 18 months” , the army said. A curfew was introduced and the borders were closed.
Idriss Déby had overthrown Hissène Habré (in power from 1982 to 1990), where he was the former army commander. Then his Presidential Guard had, for years, severely repressed any opposition before he softened his regime and opened it to a “controlled” multiparty system, according to experts.
He had been promoted to the rank of marshal last August, for feats of arms, after having, a year ago, personally command an offensive of his army in depth in neighboring Nigeria to pursue there Boko Haram jihadists who came from to attack a military camp in Chad.
Idriss Déby’s regime was seen by Westerners, in particular France, the former colonial power, as an essential partner in the war against jihadists in the Sahel. Chad, landlocked between failed states such as Libya, Sudan and the Central African Republic, is a major contributor in terms of soldiers and armaments in this conflict.
The Chadian army also provides UN peacekeepers in Mali with one of their main contingents and is considered the most seasoned of the G5 Sahel joint force (Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad).
Episodes of armed rebellions
The history of independent Chad is punctuated by episodes of armed rebellions from the North, Libya or neighboring Sudan. Idriss Déby himself came to power at the head of rebel forces that had marched on N’Djamena. Over the weekend, he joined his son Mahamat to lead the fighting in the north against the FACT rebel coalition.
On Monday, the army claimed to have crushed them but persistent rumors had filtered through heavy fighting leaving many dead and wounded on both sides. The army had recognized only six killed in its ranks and claimed to have killed more than 300 “enemies”. In the Tibesti massif, on the border with Libya, but also in the northeast which borders Sudan, Chadian rebels regularly confront the army, from their rear bases in these countries.
In February 2019, who came from Libya to try to overthrow the regime, they were stopped by bombardments of French fighter planes at the request of N’Djamena. In February 2008, a rebel attack had already reached the doors of the presidential palace before being repulsed, again thanks to military support from Paris.