SAHEL: Deby death events arcane
Brussels 20.04.2021 President Idriss Deby has died of wounds suffered on the front line in the country’s north, while visiting soldiers battling insurgents, the Chad armed forces said.
The exact circumstances of Deby’s death remain arcane. As a Commander-in-chief Deby had been leading his army during the weekend as it battled rebels who had launched a major incursion into the north of the country on election day on April 11.
Recognised as a brilliant military strategist who has been able to survive numerous coup d’état attempts and rebellions, Deby never hesitated to lead soldiers on the battlefront. Last year, he took the title of Field Marshal of Chad.
On Monday, April 19, the army had claimed a “great victory” in its battle against the rebels intruding from neighbouring Libya, claiming it had killed 300 fighters, with the loss of five soldiers in its own ranks during eight days of combat.
The rebel raid in the provinces of Tibesti and Kanem was carried out by the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), based in Libya. The group has a neutrality pact with Marshal Khalifa Haftar controlling Libya’s oil-rich East.
FACT, a group mainly made up of the Saharan Dazaga (sometimes referred to as Gourane, an Arabian exonym Goran people), said in a statement Sunday, April 18, that it had “liberated” the Kanem region. The events in the remote desert combat zones are hard to verify.
A military council led by the late president’s 37-year-old son, four-star General Mahamat Idriss Deby, would take a lead for the next 18 month transition period. A curfew has been imposed in the capital N’Djamena and the country’s borders have been shut in the wake of the President’s sudden death.
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, April 20, a day after Deby was declared the winner of a presidential election.
Deby was a herder’s son from the Zaghawa Sahelian Muslim ethnic group who took the classic path to power through the army ranks, and relished the military culture.