ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AFP) — The African Union on Friday urged the restoration of civilian rule in Chad after veteran ruler Idriss Deby Itno’s son, a general, took charge following his father’s death fighting rebels.
The AU’s 15-member security body, the Peace and Security Council, voiced “grave concern” over the establishment of a military council headed by 37-year-old Mahamat Idriss Deby.
The elder Deby, who had ruled the vast semi-desert state with an iron fist for 30 years, died from wounds sustained in battle at the weekend.
His death has stunned ally and former colonial ruler France, which has relied on Chad in its campaign against a jihadist revolt in the Sahel region.
Chad staged a state funeral for Deby on Friday that was attended by French President Emmanuel Macron, who called on the newly-appointed military government to foster “stability, inclusion, dialogue, democratic transition”.
Chad’s parliament and government have been dissolved, allowing Mahamat Idriss Deby to wield full powers.
He has promised “free and democratic” elections after an 18-month transition period that can be extended once.
The AU’s Peace and Security Council met to discuss the situation Chad on Thursday but waited to issue its statement until after Friday’s funeral.
It urged Chad’s security forces “to respect the constitutional mandate and order, and to expeditiously embark on a process of restoration of constitutional order and handing over of political power to the civilian authorities.”
The statement also called for “an all-inclusive national dialogue” and said the African Union Commission, headed by Chadian former prime minister Moussa Faki Mahamat, should send a fact-finding mission to the country.
The Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT) rebel group, which crossed into Chad from Libya, has vowed to pursue its offensive after a pause for the funeral.
Friday’s AU statement said conditions on the ground posed a potential threat to Chad, its neighbours and the entire continent.
© Agence France-Presse