Chad's President Idriss Deby has died while visiting troops on the frontline of a fight against northern rebels, Reuters reported an army spokesman saying today, the day after Deby was declared the winner of a presidential election.
Deby, 68, came to power in a rebellion in 1990 and was one of Africa's longest-ruling leaders.
His campaign said yesterday he was joining troops battling what he called terrorists after rebels based across the northern frontier in Libya advanced hundreds of kilometres south toward the capital N'Djamena.
The cause of death was not yet clear.
Army spokesman Azem Bermendao Agouna announced his death in a broadcast on state television, surrounded by a group of military officers he referred to as the National Council of Transition. The army added that Deby's son, General Mahamat Kaka, has been named interim head of state.
"A call to dialogue and peace is launched to all Chadians in the country and abroad in order to continue to build Chad together," Agouna said.