Foreign leaders arrived in Chad on Thursday for the funeral of slain president Idriss Deby as France backed the new military leaders in the face of rebel threats to resume an offensive on the capital NDjamena.
French President Emmanuel Macron, Guinean President Alpha Conde, Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari, members of his cabinet and some state governors include Borno State governor Babaga Uamara Zulum and several other African heads of state arrived in N’Djamena despite warnings from the rebels that foreign leaders should not attend Friday’s funeral for security reasons.
A military council led by General Mahamat Idriss Deby took power after his father, who had ruled for 30 years and was a close ally of Western powers in the fight against Rebels militants, was killed in battle with the rebels on Monday.
General Deby, 37, has said the army will hold democratic elections in 18 months, but opposition leaders have condemned his takeover as a coup detat and an army general said many officers were opposed to the transition plan.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the military was justified in its actions as the speaker of parliament had declined to take charge.
Deby, although criticised by human rights groups for his repressive rule over three decades, was a lynchpin in France’s security strategy in Africa.
About 5,100 French troops are based across the region as part of international operations to fight Islamist militants and France has its main base in N’Djamena.
Despite FACT’s threat about security at the funeral, people went about their business as usual in N’Djamena on Thursday, with some saying they were frustrated and worried about the situation.
Nigerian defence minister said that Nigeria reinforced security along its border to avoid a potential influx of Chadian refugees, Central African Republic’s army said it was on maximum alert to prevent armed groups from crossing the border.