IMF Continuing Chad Debt Restructure Talks After Deby Death

In this file photo an exterior view of the building of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), with the IMG logo, is seen on March 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP
In this file photo an exterior view of the building of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), with the IMG logo, is seen on March 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP

 

The IMF is continuing meetings to restructure Chad’s debt, the fund spokesman said Thursday, despite the country being run by a military junta after the death of President Idriss Deby Itno in battle.

“I can tell you the creditor committee had a technical meeting earlier this week, and a follow-up meeting is planned for next week,” Gerry Rice told reporters at the IMF headquarters in Washington.

Chad in January became the first country to request debt restructuring under a new mechanism established last year by the G20 as it dealt with a heavy debt burden exacerbated by the downturn caused by Covid-19, which sunk prices of its main export oil.

The country is among several in Africa dealing with high debt loads, and Ethiopia and Zambia have made similar debt relief requests.

In late January, the Washington-based crisis lender announced a four-year interim agreement under its Extended Credit Facility and Extended Fund Facility, both viewed as necessary steps in restructuring Chad’s debt.

However, the IMF executive board has not approved the programs. According to fund data, Chad’s external debt stood at 25.6 percent of GDP as of the end of 2019.

“Chad urgently needs a debt relief to help recover from this crisis, and success with (Chad’s) common framework request will also help more countries step forward if they need debt restructuring,” Rice said.

G20 and Paris Club creditors — including China, France, India and Saudi Arabia — had supported a request from Chad for debt restructuring following a mid-April meeting.

But days later, Deby was killed in fighting with rebels, plunging Chad into political turmoil amid claims from the opposition that the junta’s takeover amounted to an “institutional coup.”

Rice did not comment on the political situation in his press conference.

AFP

France Hails Chad President Deby As ‘Courageous Friend’

In this file photo taken on November 12, 2019, France’s President Emmanuel Macron (R) welcomes Chad’s President Idriss Deby as he arrives at the Elysee presidential palace for a lunch as part of the Paris Peace Forum.  PHOTO: LUDOVIC MARIN / AFP

 

France on Tuesday paid tribute to Chad’s President Idriss Deby Itno as a “courageous friend” and “great soldier”, while urging stability and a peaceful transition in the African country after his shock death.

Deby died from wounds sustained in battle after three decades in power, according to the army, opening a period of uncertainty in Chad, a key strategic ally of the West in 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.

READ ALSO: Holding On To Power: Africa’s Longest-Serving Leaders

The statement also emphasised France’s insistence on the “stability and territorial integrity” of Chad as it faces a push by rebel forces toward its capital, N’Djamena.

Deby’s son was immediately named transitional leader as head of a military council as both the government and parliament were dissolved, but the army vowed “free and democratic” elections after an 18-month transition period.

The statement by the French presidency underscored “the importance of the transition taking place under peaceful conditions”.

There should also be “a spirit of dialogue with all political and civil society actors, and allowing the rapid return to inclusive governance based on civil institutions,” it added.

Deby had ruled Chad with an iron fist since taking power on the back of a coup in 1990, but 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.

AFP

Son Of Late Chad President To Take Over As Head Of Military Council

In this file photo taken on April 11, 2021, Four-Star General and head of the Republican Guard in Chad, Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno (C), 37, son of Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno is seen at a polling station in N’djamena. PHOTO: MARCO LONGARI / AFP

 

A four-star general who is a son of Chad’s slain president Idriss Deby Itno will replace him at the head of a military council, the army announced on Tuesday.

“A military council has been set up headed by his son, General Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno,” the army’s spokesman, General Azem Bermandoa Agouna, said on state radio.

This was shortly after the announcement that the newly re-elected president had died of wounds while fighting rebels in the north of Chad.

READ ALSO: Chad’s Idris Deby: Three Decades In Power

The shocking announcement of Idriss Deby’s death came only the day after the 68-year-old was proclaimed the winner of a presidential election that had given him a sixth term in office.

The army said Deby had been commanding his army at the weekend as it battled against rebels who had launched a major incursion into the north of the country on election day.

Deby “has just breathed his last breath defending the sovereign nation on the battlefield,” army spokesman General Azem Bermandoa Agouna said in a statement read out on state television.

Deby had ruled Chad for three decades but was a key ally in the West’s anti-jihadist campaign in the troubled Sahel region.

Newly Elected Chad President Idriss Deby Dies On Frontlines – Army Spokesman

Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno greets supporters as he leaves after casting his ballot at a polling station in N’djamena on April 11, 2021. PHOTO: MARCO LONGARI / AFP

 

Chad’s newly re-elected President Idriss Deby Itno has died of injuries while fighting rebels in the north of the Sahel country.

The shocking announcement came only the day after the 68-year-old was proclaimed the winner of a presidential election that had given him a sixth term in office.

The army said Deby had been commanding his army at the weekend as it battled against rebels who had launched a major incursion into the north of the country on election day.

Deby “has just breathed his last breath defending the sovereign nation on the battlefield,” army spokesman General Azem Bermandoa Agouna said in a statement read out on state television.

READ ALSO: 68-Year-Old Chadian President Deby Wins Sixth Term, Extends 30-Year Rule

Deby, 68, had ruled Chad for three decades but was a key ally in the West’s anti-jihadist campaign in the troubled Sahel region.

The army said a military council led by the late president’s 37-year-old son Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, a four-star general, would replace him.

On Monday, the army had claimed a “great victory” in its battle against the rebels from neighbouring Libya, saying it had killed 300 fighters, with the loss of five soldiers in its own ranks during eight days of combat.

In this file photo taken on April 09, 2021, Chadian President Idriss Déby Itno addresses supporters at his election campaign rally in N’djamena. PHOTO: Marco LONGARI / AFP

 

Deby would have been one of the longest-serving leaders in the world, after provisional results showed him winning the April 11 election.

He was a herder’s son from the Zaghawa ethnic group who took the classic path to power through the army and relished the military culture.

His latest election victory — with almost 80 percent of the vote — had never been in doubt, with a divided opposition, boycott calls, and a campaign in which demonstrations were banned or dispersed.

Deby had campaigned on a promise of bringing peace and security to the region, but his pledges were undermined by the rebel incursion.

In this file photo taken on February 06, 2008 Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno gives a press conference after a meeting with French Defence Minister Herve Morin (not in photo), in Ndjamena during an official visit to Chad. Chadian President Idriss Déby Itno, who has been in power for 30 years, died on April 20, 2021.

 

The government had sought on Monday to assure concerned residents that the offensive was over.

The tanks were later withdrawn apart from a perimeter around the president’s office, which is under heavy security during normal times.

“The establishment of a security deployment in certain areas of the capital seems to have been misunderstood,” government spokesman Cherif Mahamat Zene had said on Twitter on Monday.

“There is no particular threat to fear.”

However, the US embassy in N’Djamena had on Saturday ordered non-essential personnel to leave the country, warning of possible violence in the capital. Britain also urged its nationals to leave.

France’s embassy said in an advisory to its nationals in Chad that the deployment was a precaution and there was no specific threat to the capital.

The rebel raid in the provinces of Tibesti and Kanem was carried out by the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), based in Libya.

The group has a non-aggression pact with Khalifa Haftar, a military strongman who controls much of Libya’s east.

FACT, a group mainly made up of the Saharan Goran people, said in a statement Sunday that it had “liberated” the Kanem region. Such claims in remote desert combat zones are difficult to verify.

The Tibesti mountains near the Libyan frontier frequently see fighting between rebels and the army, as well as in the northeast bordering Sudan. French air strikes were needed to stop an incursion there in February 2019.

In February 2008, a rebel assault reached the gates of the presidential palace before being pushed back with French backing.

At Least 4 Dead In Chad Coup Attempt: Security Sources

At least four people were killed in a gunfight in the Chadian capital in what authorities said was a plot against President Idriss Deby’s government, security sources said on Thursday.

Chad has a long history of political instability and Deby himself led rebel troops into the capital N’Djamena in 1990 to seize power. But the landlocked nation started producing oil a decade ago and Deby, who has won four elections, has become an ally of the West against Islamist militants in the region.

“Between four and eight people were killed in fighting at a military barracks in the east of N’Djamena,” said a police source, asking not to be identified. The clash took place late on Wednesday.

A military officer said at least a dozen people had been killed in separate clashes in a residential neighborhood, adding that a list of future government officials had also been discovered there – implying evidence of a coup plot.

Chad Communications Minister, Hassan Sylla Bakary, told state radio there had been “an attempt to destabilize the state”. He said earlier that a small group had been conspiring for months, but gave no details of who was involved.

The streets of the capital were calm by midday on Thursday with banks and shops open. Residents clustered around radio sets on street corners, or watched television in cafes.

The sources said security forces had made several arrests within the army and had detained at least one opposition member of parliament, Saleh Maki.

Deby sent about 2,000 troops to Mali this year to help drive out Islamist fighters who had seized the northern two-thirds of the country, earning him the gratitude of France which spearheaded the military campaign there.

The intervention, as well as a decision not to defend the president of neighboring Central African Republic from a rebel takeover in March, highlighted Deby’s position as a regional power broker. But he has plenty of enemies at home and abroad.

The UFR, a Chadian rebel coalition that laid down its weapons in 2010, warned in March that it would relaunch its rebellion after Deby failed to enter talks with it.

Last week Deby accused neighboring Libya of letting Chadian mercenaries set up a training camp on its soil for use in trying to destabilize his country, a charge Tripoli denied.

Residents in N’Djamena, where Deby narrowly survived a rebel offensive in 2008, remained in the dark about the latest events.

“We’d like to get more information about this group the government has said was behind the plot,” said Khamis Mahamat, a trader.

President’s Son Leads Chadians Against Islamists In Mali

Around 1,000 troops from Chad led by the president’s son, Gen. Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, advanced towards the mountains of northeast Mali on Thursday to join French search-and-destroy operations hunting Islamist jihadists.

A column of 100 Chadian armored vehicles, jeeps and supply trucks rolled out of Kidal, the Saharan town 1,200 km (750 miles) northeast of the capital Bamako. From Kidal, French and Chadian forces backed by French warplanes are striking against Islamist rebel hideouts in the Adrar des Ifoghas mountain range straddling the border with Algeria.

President Idriss Deby’s son, General Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, commanded the Chadian column. He told Reuters its mission was to “fight terrorism, and eradicate it from the region”, a reference to the Al Qaeda-allied fighters in the mountains who are being bombarded almost daily by French aircraft.

More than 2,500 troops from Chad and Niger are assisting 4,000 French soldiers in the second phase of Paris’ four-week-old intervention against Al Qaeda and its allies in Mali. This is supported by Africa, the United States and Europe as a strike against radical jihadists threatening international attacks.

France’s Operation Serval has retaken the main urban areas of Mali’s north, including Timbuktu and Gao, and is now pursuing the retreating jihadists into the remote northeast. Malian troops are moving up behind to secure the recaptured locations.

Malian Defense Minister General Yamoussa Camara told Reuters the Malian army intended to follow the French and Chadians right up to Tessalit close to the Algerian border.

“That is going to take some time. The enemy’s offensive has been broken, they’ve lost a lot of equipment, but there are pockets of resistance scattered across the country,” he said.

This echoed statements by French leaders who say the Islamists have suffered “hundreds” of casualties but warn the Mali campaign is not yet over. France has said it wants to start pulling troops out of its former colony in March and would like to see a U.N. peacekeeping force deployed there by April.

Pro-autonomy Tuareg MNLA fighters, whose revolt last year defeated Mali’s army and seized the north before being hijacked by Islamist radicals, have said they are controlling Kidal and other northeast towns abandoned by the fleeing Islamist rebels.

Tuareg desert nomads, offering local knowledge as guides, have said they will help the French and Chadians hunt down the al Qaeda-allied insurgents in the desert and mountains.

But this has created a potentially sensitive situation as Mali’s government and army insist on restoring Bamako’s sovereignty over every corner of Mali, including the vast and empty desert zone which the Tuaregs claim as their homeland.

“It is out of the question that we would abandon any place to the MNLA,” Defence Minister Camara said.