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Chadian president dies on battlefield

President Idriss Deby Itno at the presidential palace in N’Djamena, Chad Associated Press/Photo by Jerome Delay (file)

Chadian president dies on battlefield

Idriss Deby Itno led Chad for three decades and won another six-year term on Monday. The Chadian president died on Tuesday while fighting rebels in the north amid regional unrest, the military said in a broadcast statement. The 68-year-old former army commander in chief first came to power in 1990, making him one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders.

What was he doing on the front lines? In August 2020, the National Assembly named him the first field marshal in the country’s history after he led an offensive against jihadists in western Chad. On April 11, rebels with the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT) group, whose members trained in neighboring Libya, crossed into northern Chad. That was the same day as Chad’s contested national election, which several opposition groups boycotted. The United States and the United Kingdom ordered their nonessential staff to leave the country over the weekend amid concerns the insurgents were advancing into the capital city of N’Djamena. It’s unclear what, exactly, Itno was doing when he died. The Chadian army on Monday said it killed 300 of the rebels in the north. Itno’s son Mahamat will lead an 18-month transitional governing council.

Dig deeper: From the WORLD archives, read Rob Holmes’ report on 2014 student protests in Chad that turned deadly.

Onize Ohikere

Onize is WORLD’s Africa reporter and deputy global desk chief. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and earned a journalism degree from Minnesota State University–Moorhead. Onize resides in Abuja, Nigeria.



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