Chad’s President Idriss Deby has died of injuries suffered on the frontline in the Sahel country’s north, where he had gone to visit soldiers battling rebels, an army spokesman said on Tuesday.
Deby, 68, “has just breathed his last defending the sovereign nation on the battlefield” over the weekend, army spokesman General Azem Bermandoa Agouna said in a statement read out on state television.
Deby, came to power in a rebellion in 1990 and was one of Africa’s longest-ruling leaders.
General Azem Bemrandoua Agouna, said that the late Chad president’s 37-year-old son Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, a four-star general, would replace him.
The army also said Deby, who came to power in a rebellion in 1990, was commanding his army at the weekend as it battled against rebels who had launched a major incursion into the north of the country on election day.
His campaign manager, said that the late president postponed his victory speech to supporters and instead went to visit Chadian soldiers battling rebels.
The rebel group Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), which is based across the northern frontier with Libya, attacked a border post in the provinces of Tibesti and Kanem on election day and then advanced hundreds of kilometres south. But it suffered a setback over the weekend.
Chad’s military spokesman Agouna told the Reuters news agency that army troops killed more than 300 fighters and captured 150 on Saturday in Kanem province, around 300 kilometres (185 miles) from the capital Ndjamena. Five government soldiers were killed and 36 were injured, he said.