Idriss Deby took power in a coup decades ago and died fighting against rebels trying to oust him. Over 30 years, Deby has been a maverick figure in the Sahel region, with friends in the West but enemies close to home.
The shock announcement came from the Chadian military, just a day after Deby was confirmed president-elect after securing nearly 80% of the April 11 vote. Meanwhile, Deby’s son, Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, has taken over as interim leader of a transitional military council, the military said.
On the home front, though, Deby faced pressure against his increasingly authoritarian regime. Though he won the 2016 election, reports of voter intimidation further tarnished his image. Chad amended its constitution yet again in 2018, expanding the president’s powers and increasing presidential terms from five to six years.
Mismanagement and falling oil prices exacerbated poverty and raised discontent in the landlocked country. Chad is one of the world’s poorest nations, with two thirds of country’s 15.8 million people living in abject poverty, according to the UN’s World Food Programme.
As much as Deby was successful in defending himself and his regime, his enemies were never far off. The 2021 election saw violence, with a rebel group calling itself FACT (the Front for Change and Concord in Chad) launching attacks, and over the weekend, there were clashes with the army as the rebels advanced toward N’Djamena.
While his supporter say he strove for peace and was a pan-Africanist, Deby left power in the same way he took it over 30 years ago: in the heat of battle, with a rebel group fighting a corrupt leader.
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