Chad’s longtime President Idriss Deby has died of wounds suffered on the front line in the country’s north, where he had gone to visit soldiers battling rebels, the armed forces said.
Deby, 68, “has just breathed his last defending the sovereign nation on the battlefield” over the weekend, army spokesman General Azem Bermandoa Agouna said in a statement read out on state television on Tuesday, a day after Deby was declared the winner of a presidential election.
The exact circumstances of Deby’s death were not immediately clear. The army said the president had been commanding his army at the weekend as it battled rebels who had launched a major incursion into the north of the country on election day on April 11.
Agouna also said a military council led by the late president’s 37-year-old son, four-star General Mahamat Idriss Deby, would replace him. A curfew has been imposed and the country’s borders have been shut in the wake of the president’s death.
Experts say that under Chadian law, the speaker of parliament should have taken power after Deby’s death and not his son.