Barely two days after the burial of Chadian President Idriss Deby, his family and leading political players are at loggerheads over the new leadership of the country.
According to the constitution, the speaker of parliament ought to take over in the event of the president’s death, and organise new elections.
But Deby’s son, Gen. Mahamat Idriss Déby, was controversially named the leader of the Transitional Military Council (CMT) in the same announcement of his father’s death on 20 April, which later saw the Chadians parliament dissolved.
However, there is perception of difficult times ahead for Chad considering intrigue in the palace involving other members of the late Deby’s family who don’t want Mahamat to take over.
Chadian media had reported scuffles between Mahamat Déby and his step-brother, Zakaria Idriss Déby, at the presidential palace.
Reports claimed the quarrel was over their father’s succession.
The military has raised fears of instability, as the fragile transition gets underway to fill in the vacuum left behind by the late war veteran.
Opposition parties have also condemned what they called a “dynastic coup”.
As Trade union have called for a general strike, while rebel group the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT) has said Chad was “not a monarchy”.
Also, the 15-member security body of the African Union (AU) has called for an end to military rule in Chad.
This was the outcome of a discussion on Thursday, but it was announced until Déby’s funeral on Friday.
But the former colonial power France, which has a large military base in Chad, appeared to back the takeover for “stability” amid “exceptional circumstances”.
If the transition went smoothly, Mahamat, also known as “Kaka”, will lead the country for the next 18 months as the head of a 15-member transitional military council.
The late president had several wives, the most prominent of whom is Hinda Déby Itno.
The daughter of a high-ranking Chadian diplomat, Hinda Déby, 41, served as the former president’s private secretary before she stepped down to focus on her foundation, Grand Coeur.
She has also played a key role in Chad’s oil sector.
With several of her siblings employed at the presidency, she was able to influence appointments and dismissals in government.
Her brother, Khoudar Mahamat Acyl, was the late president’s aide-de-camp.
He was present when President Déby was fatally wounded in a battle with rebels in the northern Kanem region.
Three other brothers served as health, justice and education ministers.
In January 2020, when the late president was ill, he left the first lady in charge of the presidency office to prevent confrontation between Mahamat and Zakaria, the Zoom Tchad website reported.
“Idriss Déby’s plan for his wife to maintain his power is an important sign because he did not choose one of his sons. This would also open the door to hostilities and a war of succession,” the website said at the time.
Spillover into the military
The succession feud is likely to involve various interests in the military – especially in the powerful military, where there are signs of a split as well.
Veteran Gen. Abderamane Dicko has denounced the new transition council.
The former rebel leader still serves in Chad’s military and is said to represent soldiers who are against Mahamat Déby’s leadership.
Gen Dicko has called the military council “a grouping of a few friends” and has called for “the quick formation of a broad, inclusive consultation before the country sinks into chaos”, Tchadanthropus website has reported.
If Déby’s family and more senior military officials openly challenge Mahamat Déby’s leadership, the tensions could jeopardise the interim government’s efforts to stabilise Chad after three decades of leadership by the same man.
Fighters of FACT, in whose battle the late leader Idriss Deby lost his life have rejected the
swift appointment of Mahamat as president, saying “Chad is no monarchy”, and threatened to continue their advance towards N’Djamena.