Chad’s president, Idriss Deby, has died a day after he secured a sixth term in elections that were marred by an opposition boycott. He was 68.
Deby died of injuries sustained in a battle against rebels, according to a statement read out on state
radio by General Azem Bermandoa Agouna, the army’s spokesman.
A military council will govern the country for an 18 month transition period, according to a separate statement.
“President Idriss Deby Itno took his last breath while defending his country’s integrity on the battle field,” Agouna said.
Deby came to power in February 1991 after leading an incursion of insurgents from Sudan.
He secured 79% of the vote in April 11 elections, according to the official results. He was meant to face nine opposition candidates after the Supreme Court barred seven others, but three of the contenders later quit the race.
Chad has been a key contributor of troops to a multinational effort to defeat militants in West Africa’s Sahel region. The government has faced intermittent threats from Libya-based rebels within its borders.
On April 16, two convoys of the Front for Change and Concord in Tchad, a Libya-based rebel group made up of army dissidents, advanced toward N’Djamena, the capital.
They clashed with government forces the following day, according to state-run Office National de Radio et Television du Tchad, leading to the deaths of more than 300 rebels and five soldiers.
While the government said it had repelled the rebels, FACT leader Mahamat Mahdi Ali told Radio France Internationale the rebels had made a “tactical withdrawal.”