President Idris Deby Itno of Chad, one of the longest serving rulers on the African continent is dead. He died at age 68. According to unofficial sources, he was killed in clashes with rebels in the Northern part of the country.
A statement read on State television by Army spokesman, Azem Bermendao Agouna in company with a group of Army Officers, officially announced his death.
The Army spokesman, who spoke on behalf of the National Council on Transition, said that the President just breathed his last defending the sovereign nation on the battlefield over the weekend.
“A call to dialogue and peace is launched to all Chadians in the country and abroad in order to continue to build Chad together,” he said.
The Army also announced that a military council led by General Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, son of the late President, would run the affairs of the country.
Known for taking the frontline in military operations, the death of President Deby, a close friend and ally to President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, is coming just over a week after the April 11 election which keeps him in office for another six-year tenure.
President Deby came into power through a military rebellion in 1990 and was one of Africa’s longest-ruling leaders.
He had been visiting troops fighting rebels based across the northern border in Libya; the circumstances of his death are not yet clear but one thing appears certain at this point is that he died in the field of battle.
Douglas Yates, a professor in African Studies at the American Graduate School in Paris, told FRANCE 24 that Deby’s death had come as a total surprise.
“Two days ago, news had come out from the US embassy that they were evacuating personnel because there were rebels marching on the capital, and frankly the thought was ‘(Deby) will defeat them’, because he has systematically defeated every attempted coup before now.”
Yates said that although Deby was hardly known to be a great democrat, “he was a real soldier and, in some ways, this was a worthy death for him. To die involved in the battle was better for him, I think, than to die in his bed from Covid.”
The professor said much of Chad’s unrest stems from Deby’s own people in the east with discontent rising over Deby not distributing enough oil wealth to them.
“Frankly, there’s probably not enough oil wealth to go around to everyone, but basically there were people who were unhappy, who felt like they were not getting their share and that’s been a repeated pattern in attempted coups,” he said.