But the struggle is far from over as Chad – a key Western ally in the fight against violent extremism – faces riots and insurrections from virtually every direction.
Déby had commanded what is known as the toughest army in the region, backed by French and American support, in the fight against the Islamist militants who destabilize the swathes of his neighbors: Nigeria, Mali and Niger.
The thousands of Chadian soldiers deployed in the region are seen as crucial guards against fighters linked to the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, who have killed thousands upon millions of displaced people in their attempt to dominate stretches of West and Central Africa.
Now those troops risk being sent back to Chad, said a French official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to publicly discuss military matters, to protect the capital and the country’s new ruler, 37-year-old Gen. Mahamat Kaka from the forces that they aim to replace him.
Other members of Déby’s family had been fed up with his long rule and his authoritarian lean – one nephew had led a previous rebellion against him – and critics of his own ethnic group were calling for a fresh start after his death, condemning the rise. of his son as an unconstitutional dynasty.
The military quickly named Kaka as Chad’s interim leader on Tuesday after the 68-year-old Déby was announced dead in the hours following his re-election for the sixth term. The transitional council has pledged to hold elections within 18 months, although opponents have expressed doubts that Déby’s son will surrender to his position.
Gen. Azem Bermandoa, an army spokesman, said in a statement that Déby “took his last breath to defend territorial integrity on the battlefield” while visiting Chadian front-line troops.
The rebels concentrated near the country’s northern border with Libya had attacked the army outposts and were driving towards the capital. It is not yet clear exactly how Déby died, and his allies have continued to investigate the circumstances of his disappearance on Friday.
The rebels: the Front for Change and Concord in Chad, or FACT – seemed to suspend attacks before Déby’s funeral, but warned world leaders to stay away from the capital, N’Djamena, citing security concerns.
France, which has a military base in Chad and some 5,100 troops in the region, has defended Déby from ouster attempts in the past by lending troops on strikes against previous uprisings.
On Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron urged calm as Chad entered a fragile recovery period.
“The transition that will take place in Chad must be a moment of unity, for the Chadian people and for the stability of the region”, Macron tweeted, adding that Chad can count on “France’s unshakable friendship”.
Attending the funeral, Macron sent the message that Chad’s transitional military council is legitimate, said Roland Marchal, a researcher with Sciences Po Paris.
“France is a prisoner of its relations with Chad, more than Chad is a prisoner of its relations with France,” he said, referring to Chad’s military cooperation with France in the region.
Paris has largely turned a blind eye to the Chadian leadership’s history of silencing dissent, among other human rights violations, Marchal said.
Kaka’s ascension violated democratic norms, he added. The president of the National Assembly, Haroun Kabadi, had been next in line, according to the Chadian constitution.
The Chadian regime is central to France’s security strategy in the region, said Nathaniel Powell, an associate researcher at the UK’s Lancaster University, focused on the report.
The European power, which has colonized much of West and Central Africa, has deep business ties in the region and wants to keep the threat of terrorism away from Paris.
“The French have made very clear statements that they would much prefer unconstitutional stability,” Powell said, rather than “a potentially messy transition.”
Macron sat next to Déby’s son at the funeral in N’Djamena, where he addressed a crowd of camouflage-clad military officers and dignitaries. The photos showed people crying behind face masks.
“We are standing and we will be by your side,” said the French president.
Paquette reported from Washington and Noack from Paris. Lesley Wroughton in Cape Town, South Africa, and Borso Tall in Dakar, Senegal contributed to this report.