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What are the chances in 2021 of a world leader dying on the battlefield? Chad’s leader of 31 years succumbed to his wounds after once again going to the front. Idriss Deby was one of those African strongmen that seemed to have nine lives. He had gone to face down yet another rebellion or foreign incursion, this time an uprising in the centre-west of that sprawling Sahelian country. Deby’s death at 68 was announced one day after coasting to another easy re-election, this time with almost 80 percent of the provisional vote. So whodunnit and why?

Back in France’s good graces since 2013, when his forces played a pivotal role in the rout of jihadists in northern Mali, Deby always seemed to make himself indispensable, whatever the regional crisis. He had been around long enough to fight and make up with the likes of Libya, Sudan and – by proxy some say – the Central African Republic.

We ask about the Idriss Deby of 1990, the rebel who chased his former brother-in-arms Hissène Habré from power and the Chad of 2021, as a new era of uncertainty now opens.

Produced by Alessandro Xenos, Juliette Laurain and Imen Mellaz.



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