The insecurity in Africa inched higher on April 17 as the 68-year-old president of Chad, Idriss Deby, was shot when he supposedly took charge of his military forces as they faced off with rebels north of the capitol city of N’Djamena. The 30-year president died from his wounds. The military quickly installed his son Mahamat, a military commander like his father, as the head of the country to lead an 18-month transitional council.
Rebels, Rumors, and Unrest
The rebels, calling themselves Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), stem from the already unstable nation of Libya to Chad’s North. They have recently been laying claim to parts of the Tibesti region in the most Northern department of Chad and declaring independence. Tibesti was previously part of the French West Africa colony and is named for a prominent mountain chain of the Sahara Desert.
The Rebels have claimed they will be marching south towards the capital of Chad and that they will not stand for the installation of the deceased president’s son as president. The death of the president followed a series of sharp battles between the military and the rebel forces.
Rumors are now swirling around the nation as some believe the military may remain loyal to the former president’s son and even possibly dissolve the legislature. Others are questioning whether the military will remain loyal to Mahamat. The UN has a large footprint in the nation and is watching the outcome of the transition of power closely.
Chad Has a History of Power Struggle
Deby had wrestled power from the previous regime when his own rebel forces took over the government. The former leader that Deby removed was later convicted of human rights violations. Deby himself had withstood numerous rebellions and managed to make Chad stable enough to become a main partner with the French military as they battle Islamist militias in Africa. France and other nations are calling for continued stability and for a transition of power in-line with the democratic rules of governance.
Deby had just won a contested and boycotted election prior to his death. That would have been his sixth term in office. His loss is a concern for those nations seeking to slow the growth of Islamist terrorists in the continent.
Insurgents in Chad Continue to Fight Against Interim Commander in Chief
The insurgent group Front for Change and Concord in Chad (or Front pour l’alternance et la concorde au Tchad – FACT) seeks to overthrow the government of Chad and was formed by SG Mahamat Mahdi Ali and other rebellious military officers in March 2016. They are one of the many interrelated insurgent groups operating in Chad
FACT is reported to have trained and prepped for their invasion of Tibesti in Libya, where they have struck a deal to co-exist with warlord Khalifa Haftar, who occupies much of Libya’s eastern region.
Mahamat Idriss Deby is a four-star general and has appointed 14 other generals to his transitional council. Mahamat has released a charter stating that he would serve has president and commander in chief of the military until elections were held in the next 18 months.