In what is the most tragic news to have come out of Africa in recent times, the announcement that Chadien President, Idriss Déby has been killed by injuries sustained during a clash between the nation’s army and rebels shook the entire continent.
Déby, one of Africa’s longest-serving and strongest leaders in April won the Presidential election to commence his sixth term in office as the President of Chad.
His tenure had been a mixture of great leadership – particularly in the area of security, and oppression of opposition candidates, right up to his final days on earth.
While news of Deby’s death is a source of grief to his admirers and the apparatchik of the West African sub-region, the manner in which he was killed makes it a major loss; one requiring concerted and reinvigorated efforts to control its consequences of his eternal absence. It may be more damning than the battle for the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.
Questions are being raised about the circumstances of his death, and some security experts have now likened it to a coup which may not be far from the truth considering the fact that he suffered from a common African ailment – tenure extension and stiffling the opposition.
Déby rose to become the President of the West African nation through rebellion and went on to rule it for another 30 years.
Unconfirmed reports say Déby was killed by the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FCCC), a rebel group with the main objective of regime change in the country. The FCCC who are believed to have crossed from Libya have threatened to launch a full-scale war in Chad following Deby’s re-election. The ensuing battle and attempts to peg them back saw the Chadien Defence Force (CDF) face the rebels for four days, before eventually declaring the neutralization of 300 rebels. 5 soldiers were lost in the clashes between 16th and 19th April.
The most shocking news however filtered through on Tuesday afternoon with the death of the President, who has always led battles from the front – a major loss for Chad, the Maghreb, the continent and the fight against insurgency.
The Debt After Death
Following the announcement of Deby’s death, his son, Mahamat Kaka Deby Itno was shortly after declared the interim President of the country, in direct contrast to the dictates of the Chadien constitution which says the leader of the Parliament should take over if the Presidency ever became vacant.
Article 81 of 2018 Chad’s constitution reads: “… In case of vacancy of the Presidency of the Republic for any cause, or of definite incapacity as declared by the Supreme Court, referred to by the Government, and deciding with the absolute majority of its members, the duties of the President of the Republic, with the exception of the powers specified in Articles 85, 88, 95 and 96, are provisionally exercised by the President of the National Assembly and, in case of incapacity of the latter, by the First Vice President.
In every case, it proceeds to new presidential elections at least forty-five (45) days and ninety (90) days at most after the vacancy is opened.”
Spokesperson for the transitional council of military officers, Azem Bermendao Agouna said on state television on Tuesday that Mahamat Deby will become the interim President amid other announcements which raised more than arched eyebrows about the deceased President’s style, the path he laid and how he actually was killed.
The transitional military council further announced;
• The dissolution of the Government and the National Assembly
• Mahamat Idriss Deby to head 18-month transitional council.
• A transitional charter to be put in place by the head of the council in place of a constitution.
• Fourteen-day national mourning period
• Closure of land and air borders
• Nationwide curfew imposed from 6pm to 5am
• New republican institutions to be put in place to facilitate the transition with the organisation of free, democratic and transparent elections.
What these indicate is a style that pops up time and again in African politics; one which reeks of the poor transitioning and succession plans in Africa’s political landscape.
Like other African countries that have suffered Presidential losses, they are almost always stuck with a succession plan that consists only a father-to-son continuation of previous leaderships.
In spite of all that’s currently ongoing, what is non-negotiable remains the speed with which the Interim Head of State is expected to protect Chadiens and restores peace to the country.
A Blow to Security in Nigeria & the Maghreb
The FCCC who have been reported to be responsible for the killing of Deby gained access to Chad from Libya and this continues to pose questions about the security of the country, as it relates with its borders with Niger and North Africa.
Deby’s death is a major blow dealt to Nigeria, who have had the Chadien army to thank for sustaining the charge against Boko Haram.
With President Deby now gone, a renewed charge must be initiated by the interim President as the terrorists may consider his death an opportunity to re-launch their offensives.
Deby’s death, although irreparable, shocking and controversial, leaves many debts unpaid, and ambitions unfulfilled.
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