After Deby’s Death, Chad—and the Region—Brace for the Worst

After Deby’s Death, Chad—and the Region—Brace for the Worst
French President Emmanuel Macron attends the state funeral for the late Chadian President Idriss Deby, with Deby’s son, Mahamat Idriss Deby, N’Djamena, Chad, April 23, 2021 (pool photo by Christophe Petit Tesson via AP).

On Tuesday, just one day after Chad’s incumbent president, Idriss Deby, was declared the winner of the country’s April 11 presidential election, a military spokesperson announced that Deby had been killed on the battlefield while overseeing fighting with rebels known as the Front for Change and Concord in Chad, or FACT, in the country’s northern region.

Deby, 68, had been poised to claim a sixth term in office, having won almost 80 percent of the vote in an election victory most observers considered to be guaranteed in advance. He had led Chad since seizing power in a 1990 rebellion, making him one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders.

The Libya-based FACT rebels attacked a border post on the day after the voting and continued their offensive southward. Though the circumstances of his death remain murky, Deby, a former military commander and trained pilot, apparently headed to the front to oversee the heavy fighting.

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