By Emma Emeozor
The army in Chad yesterday set up a transitional military council to oversee the affairs of the country after President Idriss Deby, 68, was killed on the frontline against rebels in the north.
The transitional military council immediately named Deby’s son, General Mahamat Kaka as his father’s successor.
The announcement was made by the Council’s spokesman, Azem Bermendao Agouna, in a broadcast on state television. The government and National Assembly have been dissolved and a nationwide curfew imposed from 6pm to 5am.
“The army declared a 14-day period of national mourning and imposed an overnight curfew from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. Air borders would close until further notice. A state funeral for Deby will be held on Friday,” the presidency said.
Meanwhile, rebels of the Front for Change and Concord in Chad known in French as Front Pour l’Alternance et La Concorde au Tchad (FACT) have rejected the transitional military council.
“We categorically reject the transition,” said Kingabe Ogouzeimi de Tapol, FACT spokesman on Tuesday.
“We intend to pursue the offensive.”
Agouna said the transitional military council would take charge of the country “to assure the defence of our country facing this war against terrorism and evil forces.”
The announcement came a day after provisional results suggested Deby, who has been in power for 30 years, had won a sixth consecutive term. Deby came to power in a rebellion in 1990 and was one of Africa’s longest-ruling leaders, surviving numerous coup attempts and rebellions.
“The National Council of Transition reassures the Chadian people that all measures have been taken to guarantee peace, security and the republican order,” Bermendao said.
He promised there would be “free, democratic and transparent elections following the spirit of sacrifice for which the marshal fought during his life.”
France yesterday paid tribute to Deby as a “courageous friend” and “great soldier,” while urging stability and a peaceful transition in the African country after his shock death.
“Chad is losing a great soldier and a president who has worked tirelessly for the security of the country and the stability of the region for three decades,” the office of President Emmanuel Macron said in statement, hailing Deby as a “courageous friend” of France.
The statement also emphasised France’s insistence on the “stability and territorial integrity” of Chad as it faces a push by rebel forces towards its capital, N’Djamena.
Defence Minister, Florence Parly praised Deby as an “essential ally in the fight against terrorism in the Sahel” while emphasising that the fight against jihadist insurgents “will not stop.”
A senior regional diplomat told Reuters that the speaker of parliament should have taken power on his death, the diplomat said.
“But it is not. That in itself is a coup,” he said.
“He has been grooming the son for some time. They will continue to face the rebellion. Deby had his hand in many things in the Sahel. His death disrupt things.”