N’DJAMENA/DUBAI: Saudi and UAE have expressed their condolences with Chad on the death of President Idriss Deby.
Deby, who was juts declared the winner of a presidential election, died while visiting frontline troops fighting against northern rebels, an army spokesman said on Tuesday.
The cause of death was not yet clear.
Saudi Arabia “hopes that the brothers in Chad would reach a peaceful solution through dialogue, in a way that would maintain the security, stability and unity of Chad, protecting its brotherly people from all harm,” a statement from the Kingdom’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
The UAE meanwhile called for a “peaceful transfer of power to achieve the security and stability of Chad and the region, and to provide the atmosphere for a peaceful political dialogue that would enable Chad to achieve this peacefully.”
Deby came to power in a rebellion in 1990 and was one of Africa’s longest-ruling leaders.
His campaign said on Monday he was joining troops battling what he called extremists after rebels based across the northern frontier in Libya advanced hundreds of kilometers south toward the capital N’Djamena.
Deby’s son, a four-star general, will replace him at the head of a military council, the army announced Tuesday.
“A military council has been set up headed by his son, General Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno,” the army’s spokesman, General Azem Bermandoa Agouna, said on state radio.
Army spokesman Azem Bermendao Agouna announced his death in a broadcast on state television, surrounded by a group of military officers he referred to as the National Council of Transition.
“A call to dialogue and peace is launched to all Chadians in the country and abroad in order to continue to build Chad together,” he said.
“The National Council of Transition reassures the Chadian people that all measures have been taken to guarantee peace, security and the republican order.”
Western countries have seen Deby as an ally in the fight against extremist groups, including Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin and groups linked to Al-Qaeda and Daesh in the Sahel.
Deby was also dealing with mounting public discontent over his management of Chad’s oil wealth and crackdowns on opponents.
His recent election victory gave him a sixth term in office, but the April 11 vote was boycotted by opposition leaders.