Jean-Jacques Cornish

We don’t know exactly how Idriss Deby died at the hands of rebels

We don’t know exactly how Chad’s President Idriss Deby died while visiting troops in the north of his country on Sunday.

Africa’s fifth longest service President who won Sunday’s election with 79,3% of the vote, elected to be with his soldiers rather than attend a ceremony celebrating his sixth term in the office he seized in a 1990 rebellion.

His army spokesman General Azar Bermourdoa Agoma read a statement on national television saying Deby had breathed his last while defending the nation’s sovereignty on the battlefield.

Perhaps further details will come from his his 37-year-old son General Mahamat Idriss Deby who has been named interim president.

We should not expect much from the media after the military imposed a curfew and shut the country’s borders following the president’s death.

Chad’s constitution and its legislative assembly have been dissolved.

This means the legal course of events following the death of the president, that would put the speaker in charge for 40 days until a transition or fresh elections are held, is not being followed.

At the weekend the military said it had stopped an approach on the capital N’Djamena by rebels of the Front For Chance And Concord in Chad.

The organisation that goes by the Acronym FACT has bases in neighboring Libya.

The Chadian army denies that FACT has seized control of Kanem Province 300 km north of N’Djamena and claims it has stopped the rebels in their tracks, killing more than 300 of then.

The 68 year-old son of a herder was a valued ally of the Western powers and a leading member of the Sahel group fighting jihadis.

The rebel advance that started on April 9 had the United States withdrawing non-essential personnel from its embassy in N’Djamena and the British Foreign Office urging nationals to leave Chad.

France, by contrast advised its nationals that there is no threat in N’Djamena.

The rebel action was an embarrassment for Deby who fought the election with a promise of bringing peace and security to the nation.

This is by no means the first rebel attack he has resisted.

In 2008 rebels advanced to the gates of the presidential palace in the capital before they were repelled with French military support.

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Jean-Jacques Cornish is a journalist and broadcaster who has been involved in the media all his adult life.

Starting as a reporter on his hometown newspaper, he moved briefly to then Rhodesia before returning to South Africa to become a parliamentary correspondent with the South African Press Association. He was sent to London as Sapa’s London editor and also served as special correspondent to the United Nations. He joined the then Argus group in London as political correspondent.

Returning to South Africa after 12 years abroad, he was assistant editor on the Pretoria News for a decade before becoming editor of the Star and SA Times for five years.

Since 1999 he’s been an independent journalist writing and broadcasting – mainly about Africa – for Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape
Talk, Radio France International, PressTV, Radio Live New Zealand, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, the BBC, Agence France Press,
Business in Africa, Leadership, India Today, the South African Institute for International Affairs and the Institute for Security Studies.

He has hosted current affairs talk shows on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk. He appears as an African affairs pundit on SABC Africa and CNBC Africa.
He lectured in contemporary studies to journalism students at the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Pretoria.

He speaks on African affairs to corporate and other audiences.
He has been officially invited as a journalist to more than 30 countries. He was the winner of the 2007 SADC award for radio journalism.

He’s been a member of the EISA team observing elections in Somaliland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Tunsiai.

In October 2009 he headed a group of 39 African journalists to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

In January 2010 he joined a rescue and paramedical team to earthquake struck Haiti.

He is immediate past president of the Alliance Francaise of Pretoria.

Jean-Jacques is a director of Giant Media. The company was given access to Nelson Mandela in his retirement years until 2009.
He is co-producer of the hour-long documentary Mandela at 90 that was broadcast on BBC in January 2009.