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Chad’s military leader leaves for talks in France

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[FILES] Mahamat Idriss Deby pays his respects near the coffin during the state funeral for his father Chadian president Idriss Deby in N’Djamena, on April 23, 2021. – Chad staged a state funeral for veteran ruler Idriss Deby Itno, a linchpin in the fight against the Sahel’s jihadist insurgency, as France and regional allies voiced backing for his son and successor, Mahamat Idriss Deby. The elder Deby, who had ruled the vast semi-desert state with an iron fist for 30 years, died from wounds sustained fighting rebels at the weekend, the army said on April 20, 2021. (Photo by Christophe PETIT TESSON / POOL / AFP)


The head of Chad’s military junta, Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, left N’Djamena on Sunday for a “friendship and working visit” to France, his office said.

The 37-year-old four-star general has led the junta since the announcement in April that his father and veteran leader Idriss Deby Itno had been killed while leading troops against rebels.

Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, president of the Military Transition Council (MTC), “left N’Djamena this morning headed for Paris”, his office said in a statement which gave no details of his itinerary while in the French capital.

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A member of the Chadian delegation told AFP he would have dinner with French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday.

France, the former colonial power in Chad, becomes the third country visited by Deby, and the first outside Africa, after trips to Niger and Nigeria.

The MTC has promised “free and transparent” elections after an 18-month transitional period, which could be extended.

The international community, including France and the African Union have urged that this period should not exceed 18 months.

The Chadian army, along with French troops, is one of the main pillars of the fight against jihadist groups in the Sahel region.

Macron was the only Western head of state to attend the funeral of Idriss Deby Itno and meet his son Mahamat.

Macron recently announced a gradual pullout of French troops from the Sahel region in favour of a smaller contingent focussed on anti-terrorism and helping African armies.

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