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Chad President Idriss Deby's State funeral set for Friday: presidency

Wednesday April 21 2021
Chad's President Idriss Deby

In this file photo taken on January 13, 2020, Chad's President Idriss Deby arrives to attend a summit on the situation in the Sahel region in the southern French city of Pau. PHOTO | AFP

By PATRICK ILUNGA

Chad President Idriss Déby Itno State funeral will take place on Friday, military officials announced on Tuesday, hours after news broke of his death on the battlefield.

Mr Deby, President of Chad since 1990, died on Tuesday, a day after leading his army's fighting against rebels. Officials said he died from injuries sustained in the Monday morning attack. 

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.

A statement from the new military council that took over after his death said the funeral will take place "in the presence of heads of state and government of friendly countries".

It will be held in Ndjamena, the capital, before his burial in his native region in the far east, the presidency said.

The countries were not named but Chad has enjoyed close relations with neighbours Cameroon, with which it shared an oil pipeline, and Nigeria with which it shared a counterterrorism programmes alongside other neighbours in the Sahel region. 

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Condolence messages

Among those who eulogised Deby was Félix Tshisekedi, President of DR Congo and current President of the African Union.

President Tshisekedi said he was "appalled" and that the death is “a great loss for Chad and Africa as a whole".

The African Union also sent a condolence message, calling Deby an pan-Africanist. 

“The late President played a key role in promoting the African Union’s agenda to promote peace and security, and was an ardent supporter of the union’s efforts to create an environment of security and stability, especially within the Sahel region,” it said in a statement.

“The African Union stands in solidarity with the government and the people of Chad during this difficult time and joins them in mourning the loss of a champion of Africa’s endeavours to provide a peaceful, secure and stable continent.”

Deby’s former Foreign Minister Mousa Faki Mahamat is the current Chairperson of the African Union Commission, the secretariat of the continental bloc based in Addis Ababa.

France's message

The French presidency said Deby was a "courageous friend" of France and a "great soldier" who worked tirelessly for the security of his country.

The statement from the Elysee Palace also emphasised the importance of "stability and territorial integrity" for Chad while urging that the post-Deby transition take place in "peaceful conditions".

Following Deby's death, the army suspended the government, the Constitution and Parliament.

The army has also installed Mahamat Deby, the son of the slain leader, as the country's President for 18 months.

Freshly re-elected for a sixth term, Deby succumbed to injuries while leading army operations in the face of a rebellion from Libya, as confirmed by the Chadian army.

The country will be ruled for 18 months by Mahamat Deby, the son of the late President.

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