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Chad funeral for president killed by rebels


Chadian military officials watch from the stands in N’Djamena

The state funeral of Chad’s long-serving President Idriss Déby is being held in the capital N’Djamena.

The army says he died in a battle with dissident army rebels, called Fact, in the country’s north on Tuesday.

A number of foreign leaders have ignored warnings from the rebels that they should not attend for security reasons.

Among those attending are heads of state from France, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania and Nigeria.

Friday’s ceremony includes a military march-past and a speech by his son and the army’s named successor Gen Mahamat “Kaka” Déby Itno.

After the ceremony in N’Djamena, Déby will be buried in his native region.

After the military honours and various speeches, a prayer will be said at the Grand Mosque of N’Djamena, reports the BBC’s Lalla Sy.

Then, in the early afternoon, Mr Déby’s remains will be flown to Amdjarass, a small village next to his hometown of Berdoba, more than 1,000 km (600 miles) from the capital, near the Sudanese border.

French President Emmanuel Macron greets President of Mauritania Mohamed Ould Cheikh El Ghazouani next to Niger"s President Mohamed Bazoum after a meeting with African leaders of the Sahel countries as part of the funerals of Chad President Idriss Deby in N"Djamena, Chad, April 22, 2021.

On Thursday, leaders including the presidents of Niger (L), France and Mauritania met in the capital

News of his shock death on Tuesday was met with tributes from numerous presidents – France’s Emmanuel Macron called him a “brave friend”, Cameroon’s Paul Biya said he served “tirelessly”, DR Congo’s Felix Tshisikedi called it a “a great loss for Chad and for all of Africa”, Mali’s President Bah Ndaw lamented his “brutal” death and South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa called it “disturbing”.

President Déby was a key player in security strategy in the Sahel region – and Chad is reputed for having one of the best-trained and best-equipped armies in the region.

A military council led by his son, Gen Mahamat Déby Itno took power after his death. He only has partial support of the army however he is backed by former colonial ruler France.

Gen Déby, 37, has said the army will hold democratic elections in 18 months, but opposition leaders have condemned his takeover as a “coup” and an army general said many officers were opposed to the transition.

Fact rebels also reject it but have called a temporary ceasefire while Friday’s funeral takes place.

A crowd gathers to witness the state funeral for the late Chadian president Idriss Deby in N"Djamena, Chad, 23 April 2021. Chad"s President Idriss Deby died of injuries suffered in clashes with rebels in the country"s north, an army spokesperson announced on state television on 20 April 2021. Deby had been in power since 1990 and was re-elected for a sixth term in the 11 April 2021 elections. The state funeral will take place on the morning of 23 April 2021, attended by French President Emmanuel Macron.

People have gathered outside the venue in the capital N’Djamena

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