The late Chadian leader, Idriss Deby
There is anxiousness in Chad, as about a dozen African heads of state and French President Emmanuel Macron are expected to attend the funeral of the late Chadian President, Idriss Déby Itno, in the face of threats from rebels to resume an offensive on the country’s capital.
Several of the Chadian army officers, led by General Idriss Abdéramane Dicko, also refused to recognise the authority of the Transitional Military Council, led by Mahamat Idriss Déby the son of the late leader of Chad.
While Mahamat took over as head of the Military Transitional Council after the death of his father, the Chadian opposition denounces it as a coup. As tension builds over the stalemate, expectations are high over the outcome of the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) deliberation, which held yesterday over the situation in Chad and Somalia. A communiqué was still being expected as at press time on the position of the continental body over the political situation in Chad.
But the French Government, yesterday, threw its weight behind the military takeover in Chad. This was disclosed by French Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, although under the Chadian constitution, the Speaker of the House should have become the interim leader upon the death of an incumbent.
“There are exceptional circumstances,” Le Drian said. “Logically, it should be Mr Haroun Kabadi but he refused because of the exceptional security reasons that were needed to ensure the stability of this country.”
He added that the goal was for the military council to ensure it brokers stability in Chad before it then transits to civilian rule. Le Drian’s explanation may justify why most world leaders have shied away from condemning the military takeover in the oil-producing central African nation. Despite objections from the opposition, the country’s military installed 37-year-old son of the slain leader, Mahamat, as president. The military also dissolved the government, the constitution and the parliament.
Meanwhile, rebel forces, a Libyan-based group of dissident army officers with the name Front for Change and Concord in Chad, have rejected the new government. They have threatened to press their offensive into N’Djamena, Chad’s capital. They however paused hostilities to allow the government time to bury Mr Déby. Labour unions have also called on workers to down tools in protest against a military takeover.
In addition to President Macron of France, the following leaders are expected in the Chadian capital for the funeral: Alpha Condé (Guinea Conakry), Umaro Sissoco Embalo (Guinea-Bissau), Bah Ndaw (Mali), Félix Tshisekedi (DRC), Mohamed Bazoum (Niger). Others are Roch Marc Christian Kaboré (Burkina Faso), Mohamed Ould El-Ghazaouni (Mauritania), Faure Gnassingbé (Togo), Abdel Fattah al-Burhan (Sudan) and Rose Christiane Ossouka Raponda (Prime Minister of Gabon).
Already in the country yesterday evening were president of Niger, Bazoum; president of Mali, Ndaw; Prime Minister of Gabon, Rose Ossouka; President of Mauritania, El-Ghazaouani; and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations for West Africa and the Sahel, Mahamat Saleh Annadif. They were all received at the airport by the vice-president of the TMC, General Djimadoum Tiraïna. French President Macron also touched down into the country last night around 8:45p.m. for the funeral. This is despite warnings from the rebels that foreign leaders should not attend for security reasons.
The Federal Government yesterday warned that the killing of Chadian leader, Idriss Déby and the absence of the country’s influence on the border may worsen Nigeria’s security situation and that of other neighbouring countries of the lake Chad basin.