The African Union on Friday called for the restoration of civilian rule in Chad after veteran ruler Idriss Deby Itno’s son, a general, took charge following his father’s death fighting rebels.
The AU’s 15-member security body, the Peace and Security Council, expressed “grave concern” over the formation of a military council led by 37-year-old Mahamat Idriss Deby.
The elder Deby, who had ruled the vast semi-desert state with an iron fist for the previous 30 years, died at the weekend from wounds sustained in battle.
His death has come as a shock to Chad’s ally and former colonial ruler, France, which has relied on Chad in its fight against a jihadist insurgency in the Sahel.
On Friday, Chad held a state funeral for Deby, which was attended by French President Emmanuel Macron, who urged the new military government to promote “stability, inclusion, dialogue, and democratic transition.”
The parliament and government of Chad have been dissolved, giving Mahamat Idriss Deby complete control.
He has promised “free and democratic” elections after an 18-month transition period that can be extended once.
The African Union’s Peace and Security Council convened to address the situation. Chad received the news on Thursday, but didn’t release a statement until after the funeral on Friday.
It urged Chad’s security forces to “respect the constitutional mandate and order,” as well as to “immediately begin a process of constitutional order restoration and handover of political power to civilian authorities.”
The African Union Commission, led by Chadian former Prime Minister Moussa Faki Mahamat, should send a fact-finding mission to the country, according to the statement.
After a brief pause for the funeral, the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT) rebel group, which crossed into Chad from Libya, has vowed to resume its offensive.
According to a statement released by the African Union on Friday, the situation on the ground posed a threat to Chad, its neighbors, and the entire continent.