Mahamat Déby

Last updated

Mahamat Déby
محمد ديبي
Mahamat Deby.jpg
Déby in 2022
7th President of Chad
Assumed office
10 May 2024 [lower-alpha 1]

Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno (Arabic : محمد إدريس ديبي إتنو; born 4 April 1984) [3] is a Chadian politician and military officer who has been the leader of Chad since 2021, first as President of the Transitional Military Council from 2021 to 2022, then as Transitional President from 2022 to 2024, and then as the 7th President since 2024 following his victory in the presidential elections. [4] He is also the General Secretary of the Patriotic Salvation Movement since 2022. He gained power on 20 April 2021 when his father and predecessor, Idriss Déby, died in action while commanding troops in the Northern Chad offensive. He previously served as the second in-command of the military for the Chadian Intervention in Northern Mali (FATIM).

Contents

Early and personal life

Mahamat Déby was born in 1984, the son of Idriss Déby, who was then commander-in-chief of the Chadian Ground Forces, and a Gourane mother. [5]

Mahamat Déby is polygamous and has three wives. [6] [7] His first wife is an ethnic Zaghawa woman. [6] In 2010, Déby married his second wife, a Central African woman and the daughter of Abakar Sabone—a former Central African Republic government minister, advisor to Michel Djotodia, and leader of the Movement of Central African Liberators for Justice rebel group. [6] It is believed that Déby and his second wife have five children. [6]

Mahamat Déby's third wife, Dahabaya Oumar Souni, is a journalist and media advisor who is considered the First Lady of Chad. [6] [7] Souni worked closely with her late father-in-law, President Idriss Déby, and was promoted to director of public relations for the office of the presidency from December 2019 until his death. [6] In May 2021, Dahabaya Oumar Souni was appointed as media advisor to the presidency of the Transitional Military Council and now works alongside her husband, President Mahamat Déby, as a member of his group of technical advisors. [7] [8] [9]

Military career

Mahamat Déby first enrolled at the Joint Grouping of military schools in Chad. He subsequently received training in France, at the military school of Aix-en-Provence. Upon his return he was enrolled in second promotion of semi direct of the school of officer inter arme and later was appointed to the service branch of the Security of State Institutions (DGSSIE), as a deputy commander of its infantry group. His first combat experience took place in April 2006 when rebels attacked the capital city of Chad and he later participated in combat in eastern Chad along with General Abu Bakr al Said, then director of police, Mahamat was given the rank of major afterward. In May 2009, he was made brigadier general and he shared command of Chadian forces during the Battle of Am Dam, where the army defeated the rebels. [10]

Following his victory, he was appointed in command of the armored squadrons and bodyguards of the SERS. In January 2013, he was appointed second in command of the Chadian special forces in Mali under general Oumar Bikimo. On 22 February, he led his army against rebels in the Adrar des Ifoghas mountains in northern Mali leading to the Battle of Ifoghas. They eliminated a rebel base said to be of "significant importance", inflicting heavy losses upon the rebels but also losing twenty-six men in the process, including Abdel Aziz Hassane Adam, a commander of special forces. Mahamat took full command of the FATIM and has since been leading operations against rebels in the North. [11]

Military ruler of Chad

Mahamat Deby meeting David Gilmour in 2021 to discuss U.S. support for a transition of power to a democratically elected government Charge d'affaires a.i. David Gilmour meets with CMT President.jpg
Mahamat Déby meeting David Gilmour in 2021 to discuss U.S. support for a transition of power to a democratically elected government

After Mahamat's father, Idriss Déby, died at the hands of FACT on 20 April 2021, the military announced that the elected government and National Assembly have been dissolved and that a Transitional Military Council led by Mahamat will lead the nation for 18 months. [12] A new charter replaced the Constitution of Chad, making Mahamat the interim President and head of the armed forces. [13]

Some political actors within Chad labeled the installing of the transitional military government a coup, as the constitutional provisions regarding the filling of a presidential vacancy were not followed. [14] Namely, according to the constitution, the President of the National Assembly, Haroun Kabadi, should have been named Acting President after president Idriss Déby's death, and an early election called within a period of no less than 45 and no more than 90 days from the time of the vacancy. [15] France, one of Chad's main foreign policy allies, defended the development as necessary, citing the "exceptional circumstances" caused by the rebellion. [16] The broader international community also supported Déby, seeing him as a stable foothold in the Sahel. [17] [ failed verification ] Déby was welcomed to Washington, D.C., as a part of a summit for African leaders. [18] Despite this recognition, FACT rebels have issued an open threat to the new government, stating that "Chad is not a monarchy" and vowing to continue fighting until they reach N'Djamena and depose Mahamat Déby from power. [19]

National Dialogue

After initially refusing to negotiate with insurgent groups, Déby softened his stance in August 2021, proposing a national dialogue. After his proposal was met with approval by rebel groups, [20] peace talks between government and rebel representatives started two months later. These peace talks culminated in the 8 August 2022 peace agreement, signed in Doha, which established a national dialogue between Déby's government and the opposition, [21] intended to prepare the country for elections scheduled for the second half of 2022. [22] The peace agreement, though, was rejected by FACT and other opposition groups, as well as by civil society groups, who cited the absence of a guaranteed return to civilian rule. [23] This lack of support for the peace agreement led to limited participation in the national dialogue. [24] Without major opposition and civilian participation in the national dialogue, it concluded to extend the transition and postpone elections until at least October 2024. [24] [25] In March 2023, Déby pardoned 380 jailed FACT members, many of whom were among the 400+ sentenced to life in prison for the death of his father, [26] in an attempt to have the group join peace talks, following their non-participation in the national dialogue. [27]

October 2022 protests

The Transitional Military Council's 3 October postponing of elections was met with significant pro-democracy demonstrations on 20 October, the initial date of elections. These demonstrations primarily took place in the cities of N'Djamena and Moundou, and were primarily orchestrated by the opposition group Wakit Tamma and Succès Masra, leader of the Les Transformateurs party. [28] In response to the demonstrations, government security forces violently cracked down on protesters and the government orchestrated a days long internet blackout. [24] The violence ended in the deaths of between 50 and 200, including journalist Orédjé Narcisse, and the arrests of at least 600. [24] [29] Of those 600+, 342 ended up sentenced to between 1 and 3 years in prison for charges related to the protests. The day was later deemed "Black Thursday" for the violence. [29] Following the demonstrations, Déby blamed protesters and organizers for the violence, and justified the government response by claiming the protests were an organized insurrection. [30] Following the protests, various opposition political parties were suspended, among them Les Transformateurs and the Chadian Socialist Party. [31]

French support for presidency

He has received significant support in the West, most notably from France, its former colonial power. [32] Emmanuel Macron attended the funeral of Idriss Déby, where he pledged his support for the junior Déby's government and for the stability of Chad, stability which France further supported through Operation Barkhane, which positioned a 5,000+ French force in the Sahel, with their headquarters in Chad. [33] Déby also visited Macron at the Élysée Palace in June 2021, where the two discussed the political transition in Chad. [34] Despite the 2021 termination of Operation Barkhane, France has not demonstrated any wavering in their support of Déby and continues to position troops in the region, [35] [36] despite having moved the remaining core of their Sahel forces to Niger. [37]

Finance

In July 2021, he counted on Qatar for reconciliation and economic operations in the nation of Chad. [38] Under his administration Chad's gross domestic product grew by 1.1% in 2021 and 2.4% in 2022. [39]

Boko Haram

On 22 November 2022, an attack was launched by Boko Haram in the village of Ngouboua, killing at least 10 soldiers of the Chad National Army. Déby had previously stated that the organization had been attacking civilians with increased frequency, as they "no longer [had] the strength to hit bases". [40]

2022 Chad floods

In 2022, normal rainfalls occurred across Central Africa and West Africa between July and August. [41] In mid-August, floods began in Chad, killing 22 people. An estimated 442,000 people were displaced [42] and a state of emergency was declared. [43]

2024 presidential election

On 13 January 2024, Déby was announced as the nominee of the Patriotic Salvation Movement for the 2024 Chadian presidential election by party secretary Mahamat Zene Bada. [44] After the killing of his main opponent, Yaya Dillo Djérou, by government forces on 28 February, [45] three other candidates withdrew the following week in protest and fear of similar consequences. [46] The attack was condemned by the African Union, while French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian called for an impartial investigation into the incident. [47]

On 9 May, Déby was declared the winner of the 2024 election by the National Elections Management Agency (ANGE). [48] [49] According to ANGE, Déby won 61.3% of the vote while his chief opponent, Prime Minister Succès Masra, won 18.53%. Just prior to the announcement, Masra claimed victory on Facebook, stating that he won a "resounding victory". [50] The results of the election were announced two weeks earlier than expected. [4]

See also

Notes

  1. Transitional: 10 October 2022 – 10 May 2024

Related Research Articles

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Political offices
Preceded by President of Chad (Transitional until 2024)
2021–present
Succeeded by
Incumbent