The Chadian army says President Idriss Deby has died, just days after being re-elected to a sixth term.
Speaking on state television Tuesday, an army spokesman said Deby was killed while visiting troops on the frontline of a fight against rebels, who had advanced in recent days toward the Chadian capital, N’Djamena. The spokesman did not give details on how Deby was killed.
The spokesman said a military council has been set up to rule the country. He said the council will be led by Deby’s son, General Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, 37.
There has been no independent confirmation on the circumstances of the Chadian president’s death.
Deby had ruled the Central African country since coming to power in a December 1990 coup, making him one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders. Critics called him an autocrat, while in the West he was seen an important ally in the fight against Islamist extremist groups in West Africa and the Sahel, like Nigeria-based Boko Haram.
On Monday, Deby was declared the winner of Chad’s April 11 election with 79 percent of the vote.
His campaign said that day that Deby was going to the front line to join army troops battling what he called terrorists.
Rebels based in Libya to the north had attacked a border post on election day and had moved hundreds of kilometers toward the capital.
On Friday, the U.S. embassy in Chad ordered the departure of non-emergency U.S. government employees, citing the rebels’ advance and possibility of violence in the city.
On Monday, the Chadian army said it had inflicted a heavy loss on the rebels, killing more than 300 of them.