Summary

Long-serving president Idriss Déby has died in clashes with rebel forces, according to a statement issued by the Chadian military on state television: “Mr Déby breathed his last defending the sovereign nation on the battlefield.” He was 68 years old.

The president had just secured his sixth term in office in last week’s elections, taking 80% of the vote in a contest roundly boycotted by the opposition. A military council headed by Déby’s son has now taken over control of the government, and intends to rule for an 18-month period.

Needless to say, the abrupt departure of this national symbol does not augur well for the stability of Chad and neighboring states in the Sahel region, especially when fragile political institutions are already under strain from the public health and economic fallout of COVID-19, not to mention the numerous simmering conflicts along Chad’s borders.