after the death of Idriss Déby, a new leader at the end of the night

Rumors spread, questions began to arise. On April 20, 2021, the news of Idriss Déby’s death was announced by a group of military men who appeared on television: the CMT, the Transitional Military Council, headed by Mahamat Idriss Déby, son of the deceased president. The creation of this council, in charge of preserving the stability and permanence of power in power, took place between April 19 and 20, after discussions between the main figures of the regime. Let us return to this third part of our research on the discussions that led to the reorganization of Chadian power.

It is 1:15 p.m. on Tuesday, April 20, 2021 when fifteen generals in sand-colored uniform appear on Chadian television. Three men step out of line. Who approaches the microphone is Brigadier General Azem Bermandoa Agouna, spokesman for the army. Read the press release announcing the death of Idriss Déby, following injuries received at the front. To his right, a man of modest size, youthful features and small glasses. General Mahamat Idriss Déby takes over as head of the Transitional Military Council (CMT). He is the son of the deceased. To his left, the great and massive stature of Major General Djimadoum Tiraina, Deputy Minister of Defense at the time of the events. He becomes vice president of the CMT.

Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, son of President Idriss Deby Itno this Tuesday, April 20, 2021, heads the Transitional Military Council (CMT).
Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, son of President Idriss Deby Itno this Tuesday, April 20, 2021, heads the Transitional Military Council (CMT). © TeleChad via AP

Chad’s marshal has been dead for more than a day. All Monday the rumor circulated in the circles of power that he had been injured, but without worrying us too much: ” in my generation we have all been injured several times, we all have memories “explains a former fierce adversary of Idriss Déby who has become his adviser, “ISure enough, there was a huge display around the presidential guard and the palace, but the city was very quiet, there was no sign of panic. ». « We heard that, but we had no confirmation. says a diplomat. Returning from Sarh, National Assembly Speaker Haroun Kabadi also notes ” deployed tanks between the airport and the presidency, but returns home unmoved by her.

However, the tone changed in the afternoon. Responsible for acting as head of state in the event of a power vacuum, Haroun Kabadi was first informed that the president was ” returns without further details. In the evening, he is asked to come to the presidency. ” First they tell me that he is wounded, then in the night his son Abdelkerim informs me of his death.. Abdelkerim Idriss Déby, known as “Kerimo”, was then the deputy director of his father’s cabinet, he was at the forefront of the transition that was taking place. He is still, a year later, a central player since he has stayed with his brother. He received RFI in the chair for a few moments. He prefers to dodge questions on the subject ” so as not to blur the message about the action in the present and the future ».

► To read also, the first part of our investigation: Chad: the last days of Marshal Idriss Deby

Mahamat Idriss Déby summed up the events in November 2021 on France 24: “ Upon arrival in Ndjamena, the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces (General Daoud) informed the President of the Assembly. He asked her to come and assume the constitutional responsibilities for him. To which he obviously refused, considering the war situation in our country. He judged that it was not appropriate for a civilian to preside over the destinies of the country. The power vacuum is in any case pointed out by the president of the Supreme Court, Samir Adam Annour, who saw the body of the deceased. He did not respond to our requests.

« He didn’t want a security vacuum, with the war 300 km from here. Glory and 90 days in power seemed very little given the risk that the country would turn upside down. »

haroun kabadi

A year later, Haroun Kabadi, now president of the National Transitional Council (acting as a provisional parliament), supports this version. The one who is also secretary general of the Patriotic Salvation Movement, the party of the late Idriss Déby, assures that he himself made the decision to withdraw: “ They insulted me, they called me a coward, but I did it by choice, in an exceptional situation. No one forced me, no one put a gun to my head. In this sequence, it was above all necessary to preserve the fighting spirit of the soldiers in the face of the loss of their supreme leader. He did not want a security vacuum, with the war 300 kilometers away. Glory and 90 days in power seemed little in the face of the risk that the country would overturn. And the facts proved me right as the troops remained mobilized and the war was won. »

Other interlocutors close to power emphasize that he had no other way out than to step aside. ” It was impossible to have a civilian president who had control over the military. You couldn’t put someone who never fired a shot when the war was 300 miles away. Sometimes reality trumps principle bluntly said an official, according to whom, in reality, it was the Chief of the Defense Staff, General Daoud, ” who managed everything from the evacuation of the body to the organization of the transition ».

A list of fifteen generals to lead the transition

While Haroun Kabadi chooses to prioritize ” the reality principle to the right “, a group of first circle soldiers and clan members have been working hard for several hours to” limit the damage », reduce the risks that the end of Idriss Déby creates for the country and for themselves. According to our information, there are Generals Taher Erda, a faithful thirtysomething who heads military intelligence, Djimadoum Tiraina, now vice president of the CMT, Bichara Issa Djadallah, special chief of the Marshal’s General Staff (a position he found with his son), and Ahmat Youssouf Mahamat Itno, nephew of the Head of State. They were joined by Mahamat Idriss Déby and the Chief of the General Staff, General Daoud, who had returned to Ndjamena during the day, while his troops at the same time secured military victory over Fact at Kanem.

They draw up a list of fifteen generals, called to lead the transition, which they present to the President of the Assembly: “ I saw the list and told them not to touch it, because I felt that these people trusted each other. “Haroun Kabadi said today.

The ” confidence is the term used by various actors in this transition to justify the election of Mahamat Idriss Déby as president of this CMT. ” He knows his men, he is respected said one of them, it was the natural choice ». « He had the advantage of being a soldier who knew the terrain, had family ties within various ethnic groups (his mother is Gorane), and was presentable to partners in the country. “Sums up a local scholar. In fact, having served in Mali with the Chadian contingent gives him “Kaká”, the nickname he inherited after being raised by his paternal grandmother, credit with France, stresses an adviser to the presidency, which borders on the resplendent portrait of a man. generous, balanced, frugal and pious ».

Outside the palace on the night of Monday 19, MPS activists await the arrival of their champion, whom the Electoral Commission has just announced re-elected for a sixth term with 79.32% of the vote. ” It was there that it was strange for us not to see him, that we understood that something was happening. », recalls today a foreign diplomat.

► To (re)read: Presidential elections in Chad: Idriss Déby re-elected in the first round, according to provisional results

Results as a last posthumous legitimation? ” it’s possible “, creaks one of his opponents on the ballot. ” The people of Ceni had no idea what was going on. », assures for his part a minister. Be that as it may, these provisional results will never be endorsed by the Supreme Court. Therefore, they have no legal value and should have given rise to the organization of a new election. But power is already in the hands of the military. First thing in the morning, the rest of the members of the CMT, informed by telephone of their cooptation, appear in uniform. The statement is read to Chadians in the national media, the Constitution is suspended, the government and the Assembly are dissolved, elections are promised within 18 months. Until then and in the hypothetical fulfillment of the deadlines, it will always be a Déby who will preside over the destinies of the Chadians.

« Death of Idriss Déby: investigation of the great enigma » is an investigation coordinated by François Mazet and Florence Morice, with Franck Alexandre, Madjiasra Nako and Esdras Ndikumana.

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