Rebels vow to march on Chad’s capital after Deby death

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A rebel group which launched an offensive against the regime in Chad from Libya last week vowed Tuesday to march on the capital N’Djamena after the death of president Idriss Deby Itno.

The military quickly named President Idriss Deby Itno’s son as the country’s interim leader, capping a series of stunning announcements that came just hours after the 68-year-old Deby had been declared winner of an election that would have given him another six years in power.

“Chad is not a monarchy. There can be no dynastic devolution of power in our country,” the rebels said in a statement late Tuesday, vowing to press their fight for the capital. “The forces of the Front for Change and Concord are heading toward N’Djaména at this very moment. With confidence, but above all with courage and determination.”

The circumstances of Deby’s death remained murky and some observers immediately questioned the events leading up to Tuesday’s announcement, raising the question of whether the military handing over power to Deby’s son instead of following the constitutional provisions in place amounted to a coup. Others raised fears of violence in the days to come

“We categorically reject the transition (being led by one of Deby’s sons),” said Kingabe Ogouzeimi de Tapol, spokesman for the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT).

“We intend to pursue the offensive,” the spokesman said, contacted by AFP from the Gabonese capital Libreville.

“Our troops are en route towards N’Djamena, but we will allow 15-28 hours for Deby’s sons to bury their father, according to tradition,” he added.

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Chad’s military had previously claimed to have “destroyed” the rebels after more than a week of fighting, saying on Monday that it had killed more than 300 and captured 150.

FACT, a group mainly made up of the Saharan Goran people, had said Sunday it had “liberated” the Kanem region, one of the areas it attacked after launching its incursion as Chad was going to the polls on April 11.

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