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Chad’s president dies while fighting rebels, military says

CHAD’S President Idriss Deby Itno has died of injuries sustained while fighting rebels, the military said today.

The announcement came just hours after 68-year-old Mr Deby, who ruled the central African nation for more than three decades, was declared the winner of the recent presidential election.

An 18-month transitional council will be led by Mr Deby’s 37-year-old son Mahamat, the military said. It also imposed a nightly curfew of 6pm.

The president, a former army commander-in-chief, first came to power in 1990 when his rebel forces overthrew then president Hissene Habre. 

His death is a major blow to former colonial ruler France, which declared Mr Deby “a courageous friend.” He had allowed the approximately 5,000 French troops involved in the Operation Barkhane counter-insurgency in the Sahel region to be based in Chad’s capital N’Djamena.

The rebels involved in the current insurgency are believed to have been armed and trained in neighbouring Libya before crossing into northern Chad on election day, April 11.

Several top opposition candidates had boycotted the poll over a government crackdown on opponents and protesters.

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