It is rare to see a country’s leader die on the frontline. After Idris Deby was pronounced dead, his son will immediately replace him at the head of a military council, the army announced Tuesday.
“A military council has been set up headed by his son, General Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno,” the army’s spokesman, General Azem Bermandoa Agouna, said on state radio, shortly after the announcement that the newly re-elected president had died of wounds while fighting rebels in the north of Chad.
The shock announcement came only the day after the 68-year-old was proclaimed the winner of a presidential election that had given him a sixth term in office.
The army said Deby had been commanding his army at the weekend as it battled against rebels who had launched a major incursion into the north of the country on election day.
Deby “has just breathed his last breath defending the sovereign nation on the battlefield,” army spokesman General Azem Bermandoa Agouna said in a statement read out on state television.
The army said a military council led by the late president’s 37-year-old son Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, a four-star general, would replace him.
On Monday, the army had claimed a “great victory” in its battle against the rebels from neighbouring Libya, saying it had killed 300 fighters, with the loss of five soldiers in its own ranks during eight days of combat.
For 3 decades, Idris Deby has led the North African country with an iron fist and he has paid the ultimate price in securing the desert country.