The President of Chad, Idriss Deby, has died, the country’s military has announced.
Mr Deby, who was reported Monday to have won a sixth term, died while on the frontline during a battle against rebels who were advancing on the country’s capital, Ndjamena, Al Jazeera reported Tuesday.
Mr Deby was 68 at the time of his passing.
He “has just breathed his last defending the sovereign nation on the battlefield” over the weekend, army spokesman General Azem Agouna said in a statement read out on state television.
He came to power in a rebellion in 1990 and was one of Africa’s longest-ruling leaders, surviving numerous coup attempts and rebellions.
He has ruled his country for more than 30 years and was an important Western ally in the fight against militants in Africa.
Mr Deby’s son, Mahamat Kaka, was named interim president by a transitional council of military officers, Mr Agouna said.
His death was announced the day after he was declared the winner of a presidential election that gave him a sixth term in office. Some of the opposition, which had long complained of his repressive rule, boycotted the vote.
The late president postponed his victory speech to supporters on Monday and instead went to visit Chadian soldiers on the frontlines, according to his campaign manager.
“The candidate would have liked to have been here to celebrate … but right now, he is alongside our valiant defence and security forces to fight the terrorists threatening our territory.”
The rebels, from a group calling itself Fact (the Front for Change and Concord in Chad), attacked a border post on election day.
They were advancing on the capital, N’Djamena, several kilometres to the south.
The clashes with the army began on Saturday. By Monday afternoon, the Chadian army said it had defeated a rebellion launched on election day, April 11, and killed “more than 300 enemies” who had been making an incursion into the north of the country.
During the latest election, Mr Deby campaigned on a platform of bringing peace and security to the region.
Mr Deby was born on June 18, 1952, in Berdoba, a village in Fada, Northern Chad. He belongs to the Bidayat clan of the Zaghawa ethnic group.
He attended Quranic and French school before joining the Lycee Jacques Moudeina in Bongor where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in science.
Mr Deby joined the army officers schools in N’Djamena. Thereafter, he attended several training programmes including a professional pilot course.
He became the President of Chad in 1990. Until his death, he was the head of the ruling Patriotic Salvation Movement.
Mr Deby came into power by leading a rebellion against his predecessor, President Hissene Habre, in December 1990. He has survived several rebellions and coup attempts against his own rule.
He won elections in 1996 and 2001. After the elimination of term limits, he won again in 2006, 2011, 2016 and 2021.
Mr Deby has been married several times and has at least a dozen children.
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