Ahead of Deby’s funeral, Chad rebels say command hit by air strike
Thousands of citizens attended Chad President Idriss Deby’s funeral on Friday, with French President Emmanuel Macron heading tributes to the long-ruling strongman whose death in a war with rebels has plunged the nation into turmoil.
Macron said that France will not allow anybody to jeopardise the security of its former colonies, reflecting concerns that further unrest would impede the war against Islamist militants throughout the Sahel area.
Macron said in his address to mourners that France had backed Chad’s transition to democracy.
Deby, a key figure in Western security policy, was killed on Monday in a fight with a rebel army commanded by dissident army officers unaffiliated with jihadists.
According to the insurgents, their command centre was attacked on Wednesday night in an effort to destroy their own chief.
They have swept south from their bases in Libya towards the capital, N’Djamena, but have called a temporary truce to enable Deby’s funeral to take place.
African presidents and prime ministers joined dignitaries and regular people for the funeral service in the capital’s Place de la Nation.
Deby’s coffin was borne on a military vehicle accompanied by a motorcycle escort, shrouded in a national flag. The audience erupted in tears, and a 21-gun salute rang out throughout the area.
ARE YOU HAPPY, CHAD?
Macron was seated next to Deby’s uncle, Mahamat Idriss Deby, who has taken control of Chad with the support of a military council.
“France would not allow someone to call into doubt or challenge Chad’s unity and reputation today or tomorrow,” Macron said in his statement.
“France will also be there to hold alive the hope of a peaceful Chad providing a position for all of its children and components,” he said, referring to the late president as a comrade and brave soldier who had offered his life for his people.
Human rights activists have accused France and other Western powers of turning a blind eye to government violence under Deby’s 30-year reign in exchange for security cooperation.
Despite this, many Chadians were greatly saddened by Deby’s passing.
“He has so long protected us that we have come to wish him everlasting peace. A well-earned rest, “Hassan Adoum, an N’Djamena native, said
Macron and regional representatives spoke with Mahamat Idriss Deby and members of the military transition council prior to the ceremony.
Deby, a 37-year-old general, has abolished parliament, assumed the presidency and command of the armed forces, and pledged an election in 18 months.
According to a source close to the French presidency, France and the G5 Sahel nations have pledged help for a civilian-military change in Chad for the sake of regional peace. Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger are among the G5 countries, all of which face Islamist militant attacks.
However, opposition activists, who had been growing their activity before Idriss Deby’s assassination, also denounced the takeover as a coup and called for a movement of civil disobedience. Many army officers are said to be hostile to the reform proposal, and labour groups have called a strike.
THE FRONT LINES
The Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT) rebels claim that warplanes bombed their headquarters on Wednesday night in an effort to destroy their chief, Mahamat Mahadi Ali. They suspected France of providing aerial intelligence in favour of the raid.
The group did not say where the command post was or whether there were any injuries or injury. They claim to be around 200-300 kilometres (125-190 miles) from the city.
The French army said it had not conducted any air strikes in Chad this week, and the Chadian army did not react to a request for clarification.
France has about 5,100 troops stationed in the country, with its key base in N’Djamena. The United States has combat troops stationed there as well.
According to French diplomatic and military reports, if the rebels close in on N’Djamena and challenge the country’s security, Paris will recommend interfering.
According to one article, an urgent goal was to convince Mahamat Idriss Deby to shorten the transition time and forge solidarity within the establishment.