Residents of the capital Chad, N’Djamena, reacted with shock and amazement at the news that longtime President Idriss Deby died just one day after him declared the winner of the presidential election last week.
The army said on Tuesday, the 68-year-old man, who took power during the 1990 uprising, had resisted his injuries during a visit to the battlefield in the north of the country, where Chadian soldiers fought back to a group of rebels.
Deby’s 37-year-old son, General Mahamat Idriss Deby, four stars, was quickly elected as interim leader of an 18-month military transition panel. Army to speak “Free and transparent” elections will take place after the transition period. Calling for calm, it also issued a curfew at 6 p.m. and closed the country’s borders, simultaneously suspended the constitution and dissolved Congress.
“In the face of this worrying situation, the people of Chad must demonstrate their commitment to peace, stability and national cohesion,” said General Azem Bermandoa Agouma during the broadcast.
Experts say that under Chadian law, the speaker of parliament should have taken power after Deby’s death, not his son.
“N’Djamena has an advantage,” said Hiba Morgan of Al Jazeera, reporting from the capital. With the exact details surrounding Deby’s death still unclear, the military was desperate to take control of the story, she added.
“They don’t mention the exact moment when Deby was injured; They were also very careful not to mention when he died and how long it took from when he was injured to when he died, ”Morgan said. “These are details that they’ve been very careful to control, that’s because they’re worried about the reactions of the people in Chad, and specifically in N’Djamena.”
‘Anxiety and stress’
Tuesday’s surprise announcement came more than a week after the fighters of the Front for Change and the Libyan-based Concord (FACT) attacked a border post on April 11, the day the Chadians left. votes in a vote the country boycotted major opposition parties in the face of dissatisfaction and call for political change.
The rebels then advanced hundreds of kilometers south across the vast country, but the Chad army on Saturday seemed to have slowed their progress in Kanem province, about 300km (185 miles) from N ‘ Djamena.
“There was a lot of anxiety and tension in the capital, even prior to Deby’s death announcement,” Morgan said, referring to the rebel’s advance.
On Monday, some areas of N’Djamena went into panic after tanks were seen on the main roads. This prompted a government spokesman to Twitter to say the implementation was misunderstood and “there is no specific threat to fear”.
After the military announced Deby’s death, presidential guards in civilian attire roamed N’Djamena with radios and pistols. Black uniformed and masked police are also deployed, though the military presence has not increased since the start of the rebel attack.
A Reuters reporter at N’Djamena said people were in panic when news of Deby’s death spread, fearing that fighting might break out in the city. Many people have fled to suburbs and the roads are congested in traffic. Government offices and schools were closed, while parents panicked to look for their children.
‘Bad news for the country’
Meanwhile, the authorities said a state-level funeral will be held on Friday. Heads of state and governments of “friendly nations” will attend the ceremony in N’Djamena, before Deby is laid to rest in her home country in the far east of the country.
“The news was amazing. I was touched by it, ”said Thierry Djikoloum, resident of N’djamena, quoted by the Associated Press news agency. “The rumors surrounding the transition board give me the impression that some of the information is false. They talked about disbanding parliament. That is a delicate thing. We have a constitution [to follow]. So for me, I’d say it was a coup. He was killed. “
Nadideyam Saber, another resident of N’djamena, expressed sadness at the news.
“Presidential elections have been held peacefully with the election commission’s (CENI) announcement. And the next day we learned the sad news of President Deby Itno’s death after being seriously injured on the front, ”Saber said.
“It is sad news for the country.”
Nathaniel Powell, author of The French War in Chad: Military Intervention and Decolonization in Africa, said Mahamat Deby’s rapid rise to interim head of state sent “a very strong message. “to Chad’s international partners, including France and the United States, that they can expect continuity.”
“There is a possibility of widespread protests in N’Djamena or elsewhere,” he told Al Jazeera. “Can be imagined that the fact that the rebellion that probably killed Deby in a series of skirmishes north of N’Djamena might have tried to strike again… But I think the opposition has too divided, and the military factions that supported Deby and his son moved very quickly, [that] It looks like a serious challenge will not emerge – although there are many questions in the long term. “