French President Emmanuel Macron is to attend the funeral of slain Chadian leader Idriss Deby Itno on Friday, the government spokesman said, underlining France’s support for the late strongman.
“The president paid tribute to him at the cabinet meeting and will go to his funeral at the end of the week,” Gabriel Attal told reporters at a press conference after a weekly cabinet meeting.
France had earlier on Tuesday paid tribute to the late president, describing him as a “courageous friend” and “great soldier”, while urging stability and a peaceful transition in the African country after his shock death.
The veteran leader died from wounds sustained while commanding troops fighting a rebel incursion, according to the army, opening a period of uncertainty in Chad, a key strategic ally of the West in the Sahel region of Africa.
“Chad is losing a great soldier and a president who has worked tirelessly for the security of the country and the stability of the region for three decades,” the office of President Emmanuel Macron said in a statement, hailing Deby as a “courageous friend” of France.
The statement also emphasised France’s insistence on the “stability and territorial integrity” of Chad as it faces a push by rebel forces towards its capital, N’Djamena.
Defence Minister Florence Parly praised Deby as an “essential ally in the fight against terrorism in the Sahel” while emphasising that the fight against jihadist insurgents “will not stop”.
Deby had ruled Chad since taking power on the back of a coup in 1990 but and was a key partner in the West’s anti-jihadist campaign in the troubled Sahel region, where France’s 5,100-strong Barkhane force is deployed.