Rebels in Chad have threatened to depose the son of the country’s slain president after he was named interim leader of the central African nation.
The rebel group that the military blamed for President Idriss Deby Itno’s killing said that its forces were “heading toward N’Djamena at this very moment.”
It was not certain how close the rebel column was to N’Djamena, the capital city of 1 million people, or whether the military would remain loyal to Mahamat Idriss Deby following his father’s sudden death after three decades in power.
“Chad is not a monarchy,” said a statement from the group known as the Front for Change and Concord in Chad. “There can be no dynastic devolution of power in our country.”
The ruling Transitional Military Council warned that the fight was not yet over for control of Chad.
“The security situation remains highly serious given the persistence and magnitude of the terrorist threat,” the council’s vice president, Djimadoum Tiraina, said, adding that the military must now “prevent the country from sinking into chaos and anarchy.”
Chad’s military spokesman said Tuesday that the president died during a visit to the front lines of the battle against the rebel group. The rebels were based in neighboring Libya until earlier this month, when authorities say they crossed over into Chad on the country’s April 11 election day.
Deby ran for a sixth term in that election and faced minimal opposition after several challengers chose not to take part, fearing the vote would be rigged. Over the years, the president had survived numerous armed rebellions and managed to stay in power until the insurgency led by the Front for Change and Concord in Chad.
HIs son, Mahamat Idriss Deby, 37, is best known as a top commander of the Chadian forces aiding a UN peacekeeping mission in northern Mali.
The United Nations has about 1,800 staff members in Chad and was “watching the situation hour by hour,” Stephane Dujarric, the spokesperson for UN Secretary-General António Guterres, said in New York.