Chadian President Killed on the Frontline

Posted by Brodie Kirkpatrick on

Today, April 20th, 2021, Chadian President Idriss Deby was killed in combat by rebel forces belonging to the Front for Concord and Change in Chad (French acronym: FACT). FACT was formed in 2016 with the goal of overthrowing Deby from the presidency, which he had held since 1990. The rebel group began a new offensive, the “Northern Chad Offensive”, on April 11th, 2021, the same day of the recent presidential election in which Deby won 79% of the vote. FACT forces entered Chad’s Tibesti region from Libya with the goal of pushing south into the nation’s capital, N’Djamena. 

President Deby headed to the frontlines of the offensive after his election victory. Deby served in the Chadian Ground Forces from 1976 until his death, holding the rank of Marshal. The exact circumstances surrounding his death are still unclear according to multiple sources, including the commanding general of US-AFRICOM (Africa Command) General Stephen Townsend. All that is known is that he died from injuries suffered on the frontline. 

After the announcement of Deby’s death the nation’s government and parliament were immediately disbanded. His son, General Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, was placed at the head of a transitional military council which will take the place of the government until democratic elections are held 18-months from now. Deby Itno is now the youngest head of state in Africa at 37-years of age 

The Critical Threats Project (CTP) is a creation of the American Enterprise Institute that seeks to inform government employees and interested citizens on a variety of global threats. CTP concludes that the death of President Deby and the dynamics surrounding the situation could work in the favor of Sahel-based jihadi groups in which Chad is an important partner in the fight against. The country has assigned 1,400 troops to the UN’s Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) which is a peacekeeping force in an area plagued with jihadi insurgent groups. While Chad recently announced the deployment of another 1,200 troops to MINUSMA, Deby did recall some forces back to N’Djamena to defend against rebels. The shifting of these forces could embolden Islamist groups to attack remaining Chadian forces or other partner forces in the area. Chad also houses Operation Barkhane, a French-led campaign to rid the Sahel of Islamist insurgent groups such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State; among others.

Due to the current instability in the country the United States and United Kingdom have ordered non-essential diplomatic personnel to leave the country until further notice. FACT leaders have doubled-down on their efforts to push into the capital after Deby’s death. Additionally, many are skeptical of the military’s promise to hold democratic elections in 18-months. President Deby came to power in a military coup and his administration did not have the best human rights record to say the least. Only time will tell what future the people of Chad face.



As always stay safe and have a good one,

Brodie   


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