Deby’s son named Chad president; Israel said confident ties won’t be harmed

After death of longtime ruler Idriss Deby Itno, who renewed relations with Jewish state, General Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, 37, named as his replacement

Four Star General and head of the Republican Guard in Chad, Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno (C), 37, son of Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno, is seen at a polling station in N'djamena, April 11, 2021. (Photo by MARCO LONGARI / AFP)
Four Star General and head of the Republican Guard in Chad, Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno (C), 37, son of Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno, is seen at a polling station in N'djamena, April 11, 2021. (Photo by MARCO LONGARI / AFP)

A son of Chad’s slain leader Idriss Deby Itno is to take over as president in place of his father, according to a charter released Wednesday by the presidency, as Israeli officials assessed the new leader will continue his father’s policy of normalization with the Jewish state.

Deby, who ruled the central African nation for more than three decades, was killed Tuesday on the battlefield in a fight against rebels, the country’s top military commander announced on national television and radio.

The stunning announcement came just hours after electoral officials declared Deby the winner of the April 11 presidential election, paving the way for him to stay in power for six more years. The career military man, who seized power in the former French colony on the back of a 1990 coup, had been reelected with nearly 80 percent of the vote late Monday.

Wednesday’s charter said General Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, 37, who on Tuesday was named transitional leader as head of a military council following his father’s death, will “occupy the functions of the president of the republic” and also serve as head of the armed forces.

The charter repeals the preceding constitution and will be implemented as the “basic law of the republic,” according to its terms.

In this January 13, 2020, photo, Chad’s President Idriss Deby Itno arrives at the G5 Sahel summit in Pau, southwestern France (Regis Duvignau/Pool Photo via AP, File)

Deby’s son had overseen his father’s security as head of the elite presidential guard and had often appeared alongside him.

He signed a decree Tuesday setting out a military council with 15 generals, including himself and 14 others known to have been part of the late president’s circle of loyalists.

The council is tasked with an 18-month transition toward “free and democratic elections.”

Mahamat Idriss Deby also chairs the “military transition council, the council of ministers, the councils and superior committees of national defense,” according to the charter.

The new head of state will promulgate legislation adopted by the 69 members of the national transition council, who are named directly by Mahamat.

The Transition Charter, which contains 95 articles, also guarantees “freedom of opinion, conscience and worship.”

A transition government has been set up, whose members are named by the new president.

“The members of the army who are called to the transition government are discharged from all military duties,” the charter said.

Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno (R) shakes hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting at the presidential palace in N’Djamena, Chad, January 20, 2019. (Brahim Adij/AFP)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Idriss Deby announced the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between Chad and Israel in January 2019, after Chad severed ties with Israel in 1972 due to pressure from Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi.

Appearing alongside Deby at the N’Djamena presidential palace, Netanyahu called the move “a breakthrough into the heart of the Muslim world.”

On Tuesday, Netanyahu tweeted his “deepest condolences to the people of Chad” over Deby’s passing.

“We will miss his bold leadership and always remember his historic decision to renew Chad’s relationship with Israel,” the prime minister wrote.

The Israel Hayom daily on Tuesday evening cited sources in the National Security Council predicting that the change of power wouldn’t damage Israel’s new and close ties with Chad, and that the new president would continue with the policy adopted by his father.

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