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Military: Chadian president killed after 30 years in power

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In this Feb. 6, 2008 file photo, Chad's President Idriss Deby Itno, center-right, meets with French Defense Minister Herve Morin, center-left, in N'Djamena, Chad. Deby, who ruled the central African nation for more than three decades, was killed on the battlefield April 20, 2021, in a fight against rebels, the country's top military commander announced on national television and radio.

N’DJAMENA, Chad — Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno, who ruled the central African nation for more than three decades, was killed Tuesday on the battlefield in a fight against rebels, the military announced on national television and radio.

An 18-month transitional council will be led by Deby’s 37-year-old son, Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, the military said, also imposing a nightly curfew of 6 p.m.

The stunning announcement came just hours after electoral officials had declared Deby the winner of the April 11 presidential election, paving the way for him to stay in power for six more years.

The circumstances of Deby’s death could not immediately be independently confirmed due to the remote location of the battlefield. It was not known why the president would have visited the frontlines in northern Chad or participated in ongoing clashes with the rebels who opposed his rule.

In this April 20, 2016, file photo, Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno meets with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power at the presidential palace in N'Djamena, Chad. Deby, who ruled the central African nation for more than three decades, was killed on the battlefield April 20, 2021 in a fight against rebels, the country's top military commander announced on national television and radio.

Deby, a former army commander-in-chief, first came to power in 1990, when his rebel forces overthrew then-President Hissene Habre, who was later convicted of human rights abuses at an international tribunal in Senegal. 

Over the years Deby had survived numerous armed rebellions and managed to stay in power until this latest insurgency led by a group calling itself the Front for Change and Concord in Chad.

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