Chad Army Spokesman Says President Idriss Deby Dead at 68

Chadian army names late president’s son as new leader

The rebel attack began on the same day as the country's presidential elections on 11 April, in which Deby secured nearly 80% of the vote.

Deby - who often joined soldiers on the battlefront in his military fatigues - visited troops on the frontline on Monday after rebels based across the northern frontier in Libya advanced hundreds of km south toward the capital N'Djamena.

The French presidency praised Deby fulsomely and affirmed its support for Chad's stability and territorial integrity.

General Azim Bermandoa Agouna, the Chad Army spokesperson, said the country's forces had "defeated a group of terrorists who had ventured into the north of the Kanem province", on national TV on Saturday.

Deby, 68, took power in a rebellion in 1990 and was one of Africa's longest-ruling leaders, surviving numerous coup attempts and rebellions.

Chad is an oil-rich African nation that has become a key regional ally of the West in the fight against militants.

As part of measures following Deby's death the country's constitution has been suspended and Chad will be ruled by a military council led by Deby's son Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, for 18 months.

Last Sunday, members of the Force for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT) rebel force group, said they had captured garrisons near Chad's northern borders with Niger and Libya "without resistance".

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Deby had ruled for three decades by centralising power around his family and Zaghawa ethnic group.

Most of Deby's main opponents boycotted the latest election, whose lead-up was marred by deadly clashes between opposition supporters and security forces.

The unrest had escalated in recent days as anti-government fighters approached N'Djamena, the capital city.

The tanks were later withdrawn apart from a perimeter around the president's office, which is under heavy security during normal times.

Five government soldiers were killed and 36 were injured, he said.

"I want to reassure that there is no particular threat to fear", he added while calling for calm. Due to their growing proximity to N'Djamena, and the possibility for violence in the city, non-essential U.S. government employees have been ordered to leave Chad by commercial airline.

Britain also urged its nationals to leave.

"Two days ago news had come out from the United States embassy that they were evacuating personnel because there were rebels marching on the capital, and frankly the thought was '(Deby) will defeat them', because he has systematically defeated every attempted coup before now".

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