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Chad's re-elected president dies in clashes with rebels

By Maureen Ikpeama

Re-elected Chad's President , Idriss Déby has died in clashes with rebels in the northern part of the country at the weekend.

Provisional results from the election on 11 April projected he would win a sixth term in office, with 80% of the vote.Mr Déby, 68, was one of Africa's longest-serving leaders.

He first came to power in an armed uprising in 1990. Déby "breathed his last defending the sovereign nation on the battlefield", an army general said in a statement read out on state TV.

He had gone to the front line at the weekend to visit troops battling rebels based across the border in Libya.

The statement said that the military council will be led by the late president's son,  37year-old four-star general,  Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno, 

The rebels, from a group calling itself Fact (the Front for Change and Concord in Chad), attacked a border post on election day. They were advancing on the capital, N'Djamena, several hundred kilometres to the south.

The clashes with the army began on Saturday. An army general said that 300 insurgents were killed and 150 captured. Five government soldiers were killed and 36 were injured. He added that the figures could not immediately be verified.

Déby was a long-time ally of France and other Western powers in the battle against jihadist groups in the Sahel region of Africa. However, there has been growing unhappiness over his government's management of Chad's oil resources.

During the election he campaigned on a platform of bringing peace and security to the region.

The government and parliament have been dissolved. A military council will govern for the next 18 months.

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