Chad's President Idriss Deby has died while visiting troops on the frontline of a fight against northern rebels, an army spokesman said on Tuesday, the day after Deby was declared the winner of a presidential election.
Deby's son, Mahamat Kaka, was named interim president by a transitional council of military officers, spokesman Azem Bermendao Agouna said in a broadcast on state television.Deby, 68, came to power in a rebellion in 1990 and was one of Africa's longest-ruling leaders. He and his army have been seen as a reliable Western ally in a turbulent region afflicted by jihadists.
His campaign said on Monday he was joining troops battling what he called terrorists after rebels based across the northern frontier in Libya advanced hundreds of miles south toward Chad's capital N'Djamena.
The cause of his death was not yet clear.
Image: Chad's President Idriss Deby poses as he arrives for talks on EU integration, defense and migration at the Elysee Palace in Paris
President Idriss DebyCharles Platiau / Reuters
"A call to dialogue and peace is launched to all Chadians in the country and abroad in order to continue to build Chad together," Bermendao said on television, surrounded by several officers.
"The National Council of Transition reassures the Chadian people that all measures have been taken to guarantee peace, security and the republican order," he said.
Deby, whose opponents accused him of repressive rule, pushed through a new constitution in 2018 that would have allowed him to stay in power until 2033 — even as it re-instated term limits.He took the title of "Marshal" last year and said before last week's election: "I know in advance that I will win, as I have done for the last 30 years."