Chad's President Idriss Déby dies 'in clashes with rebels'

Chad's President Idriss Déby dies 'in clashes with rebels'

Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno easily won a sixth term in office, election officials announced late Monday not long after the leader of an advancing rebel group threatening his rule announced making a "strategic withdrawal".

The shock announcement came only the day after the 68-year-old was proclaimed the victor of a presidential election that had given him a sixth term in office.

Following Deby's death, the military quickly announced that his 37-year-old son, Mahamat, who is best known as a top commander of the Chadian forces aiding a United Nations peacekeeping mission in northern Mali, will now head an 18-month transitional council.

Monday, Deby's campaign said that the late President was headed to the frontlines to join troops battling "terrorists".

A week ago, members of the Libya-based rebel group Force for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), claimed to have seized garrisons near Chad's northern borders with Niger and Libya "without resistance".

Deby was a herder's son from the Zaghawa ethnic group who took the classic path to power through the army, and relished the military culture.

The Chadian military had only acknowledged five deaths in weekend fighting in which it said it had killed 300 rebels.

But the unrest has raised alarm bells among Western countries which have seen Deby as an ally in the fight against Islamist extremism in the region.

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"A call to dialogue and peace is launched to all Chadians in the country and overseas in order to continue to build Chad together", Bermendao said, surrounded by several officers.

Britain also urged its nationals to leave.

Chadian opposition leader Saleh Kebzabo told VOA's French to Africa service that he was surprised to learn of President Deby's death and called for talks to solve the country's issues. However, there has been growing unhappiness over his government's management of Chad's oil resources.

Reacting to the incident on Tuesday, President Buhari said: "I'm deeply shocked and devastated by the sudden death of Idriss Deby on the battlefront to defend the sovereignty of his country".

According to provisional election results from the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Kodi Mahamat, while the turnout was 64.81 per cent, former prime minister Albert Pahimi Padacke came in second with just 10.32 per cent in the presidential vote.

In 2006 N'Djamena breaks diplomatic ties with Khartoum for several months, accusing Sudan of aiding rebels who are seeking to overthrow Deby.

A security analyst, Professor Kwasi Anin has noted that the murder of the President of Chad Idriss Déby may result in political instability in that country and its neighbours.

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