May 18, 2021

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Death of Chad’s president: rivals condemn ‘dynastic coup’

Death of Chad's president: rivals condemn 'dynastic coup'

Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno, one of the late president’s sons, is a 37-year-old four-star general

The main opposition parties in Chad say that the appointment by the army of President Idriss Déby’s son as the new leader of the nation is an “institutional coup”.

Déby, 68 – who had been in power for three decades – died after being shot while fighting rebels on the front lines.

The rebels also opposed the move, saying “Chad is not a monarchy.”

Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno, also known as “General Kaka”, was head of the presidential guard and will lead the country for 18 months until the elections.

The government and parliament have been dissolved, but constitutional experts say the president of parliament should take over when an incumbent president dies before holding elections.

Déby’s death was announced on state TV Tuesday – a day after provisional election results predicted he would win a sixth term at the helm of the oil-rich country that has been at the forefront of regional efforts to fight militants. Islamists.

Death is feared to trigger political instability in the vast semi-arid country with a long history of rebellion and coup attempts and where the opposition is weak and divided.

An umbrella group of trade unions joined the opposition to reject the establishment of the Transitional Military Council, calling for dialogue and workers to stay home until a resolution is reached.

Songs of mourning amidst the shock

By Mahamat Adamou, N’Djamena

Downtown N’Djamena is on full alert – with many tanks and other armored vehicles lining the perimeter of the presidential palace and parked at key intersections. Other shops and markets in the Chadian capital are open, although not as crowded as usual, and people don’t send their children to school.

People riding a motorcycle in front of a tank near the presidential palace in N & # 39;  Djamena, Chad

Borders reopened and night curfew shortened from 8pm to 5am, but security is still tight in the capital

People are still in shock here after President Déby’s death – even those who opposed him are stunned. The vast majority of the population is under the age of 30 and has never met any other president.

In between programs, state TV broadcasts religious mourning songs. While some might think it’s good that Déby’s hold on power is no longer there, there is a sense of sadness that it went this way.

“I’m not happy with how Idris Déby died, it’s not what we wanted for him, but we wanted him to leave power. He made us suffer a lot, there are no women’s rights in Chad. Up to now he has done nothing for us. , “one woman told BBC Africa.

Another man agreed: “Nobody wants anyone to die in life, it’s a shock, but we needed a change. By change we didn’t mean his son or any military man.”

The rebels are also adhering to traditional mourning customs, claiming to have halted their advance southward until after Déby’s burial on Friday.

Who is Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno?

He is a 37-year-old four-star general who has played a leading role in the army since 2013, when he was appointed deputy head of the Chadian forces participating in counter-terrorism operations in Mali.

He is also known as “General Kaka” – a reference to his upbringing when he was raised by President Déby’s mother and “kaka” means grandmother in Chadian Arabic.

The late president, a Muslim, had a large family, had married several times and had an unspecified number of children.

Sam Murunga, BBC Monitoring’s Africa specialist, says Gen Kaka, who has been appointed president and chief of the military, has a reputation for discretion and escaping the limelight, unlike some of his half-brothers.

Although not a well-known personality, he is said to be highly respected by the ranks of the army.

It was reported that he was on the front lines in northern Chad when his father was shot dead.

Why was the president at the front?

Déby was a training army officer and former head of the military who came to power in 1990 through an armed uprising – and in the years that followed he faced numerous challenges and many coup plots.

Chadian army members seen during an operation against rebels in Ziguey, Kanem region, Chad - April 19, 2021

Over the weekend, Chadian soldiers were involved in bitter clashes with rebels in the north

Observers say it is no surprise to hear that he died on the front as he often took command during military clashes, including a large battle on Lake Chad against Boko Haram militants last year.

The latest foray by the rebels began on election day, when Fact (the Front for Change and Concord in Chad) staged a border attack from Libya.

The group originated from Chadian rebels once based in the Darfur region of Sudan, who organized various attempts to overthrow Déby, from the Zaghawa ethnic group.

Power struggles in Chad tend to be along ethnic lines and the rebels are known to be dominated by the Gorane community of Déby’s predecessor, Hissène Habré, so they are likely to have support from its supporters.

In recent years, the fighters have built their base in Libya in the Tibesti Mountains, straddling northern Chad and part of southern Libya.

How does Déby’s death affect the fight against jihadists?

African leaders have expressed dismay at Déby’s death as Chadian forces are considered the most effective in fighting Boko Haram militants and other jihadists linked to the Islamic State group and al-Qaeda in the region.



“We don’t want a power vacuum,” Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama told BBC Focus on Africa radio.

In a statement, the French presidency called Déby a “brave friend” and said it affirmed its attachment to Chad’s stability. Over the years, France has deployed troops and fighter jets to repel Déby’s opponents.

The 5,000-strong French counter-terrorist force, called Operation Barkhane, is also based in N’Djamena.

It has been announced that French President Emmanuel Macron intends to attend Déby’s funeral.