Chad: President Idriss Deby's Death Creates Uncertainty for Chad and the Region

Chad national flag (file photo).

The sudden and mysterious death of Chadian strongman Idriss Deby -- supposedly on the battlefield -- has cast much doubt on the future stability of Chad and the region.

In power for more than 30 years, Chadian President Idriss Deby (68), a former military chief, was a key ally of Western powers in fighting violent Islamist groups in West Africa and the Sahel.

Some commentators are sceptical of the Chadian army's explanation that Deby died on Tuesday of wounds sustained in a battle with northern rebels on Monday. They suspect that he was ousted and killed in a military coup. But the immediate installation of his son, four-star general Mahamat Idriss Deby (37) as head of an 18-month transitional military council seems to counter the coup theory.

South African officials are concerned that the new military rulers have suspended Parliament, though the generals have promised "free and democratic" elections at the end of the transition.

Some countries are evacuating their embassy staff because of the uncertainty in the wake of Deby's death -- and the possible advance of the rebels. But Pretoria believes that there is little chance of the rebels seizing the capital, N'Djamena, soon and so has given...

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