Mahamat Deby Replacing His Late Father as Chad’s President is Coup, Says Prominent Lawyer

Mahamat Deby Replacing His Late Father as Chad’s President is Coup, Says Prominent Lawyer

- Nigerian legal expert Saheed Akinola has picked holes in the naming of Mahamat Deby as his father’s successor in Chad

- Mahamat was named to replace his late father as Chad’s president and is expected to hold the position for 18 months before handing over to a new government

- Akinola, however, said the move made rubbish of the Chadian constitution and coup best be described as a coup

- According to the lawyer, the person that the constitution empowers to replace the president is the Speaker of the parliament

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Idriss Deby, the president of Chad, died on Tuesday, April 20, according to the announcement by the country’s Army.

The Chadian president died of injuries suffered while fighting rebels. His death came a day after he won a sixth term as the country's election results were just released on Monday, April 19.

Meanwhile, in a swift move, Mahamat Idriss Deby, the son of the late president, was named transitional leader as head of the military council.

Mahamat Deby Replacing His Late Father as Chad’s President is Coup, Prominent Lawyer Says
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. Photo: Christophe PETIT TESSON/POOL /AFP
Source: Getty Images

According to a report by Aljazeera, Mahamat, a four-star general and career soldier in the Chadian Army will “occupy the functions of the president of the republic” and also serve as head of the armed forces.

In simple terms, he took over as president in place of his father. Mahamat will be in charge as Chad’s leader for 18 months after which he is expected to hand over to a democratically elected government.

The development was contained in a Transition Charter which repealed the Chadian Constitution.

Naming Mahamat as president rubbishes Chadian Constitution

However, a Nigerian lawyer and human rights crusader, Saheed Akinola, said the move by the Chadian military made a “rubbish of the whole democratic process and constitutional provisions in Chad’s constitution of 2018.”

The Chadian Constitution recognizes election as the only means by which the president of the country could be given the mandate to lead the country, Akinola told

According to him, the person that is constitutionally empowered to replace the late president is the Speaker of the parliament.

He said:

“There is no lacuna as to the replacement of a president that died while in office. In such an instance, the constitution mandates the Speaker of the parliament to hold office for at least 45 days.”

The lawyer quoted the provision of Article 81 of the Chadian Constitution to back his argument:

“In case of vacancy of the Presidency of the Republic for any cause, or of definite incapacity as declared by the Supreme Court, referred to by the Government, and deciding with the absolute majority of its members, the duties of the President of the Republic, with the exception of the powers specified in Articles 85, 88, 95 and 96, are provisionally exercised by the President of the National Assembly and, in case of incapacity of the latter, by the First Vice President.

“In every case, it proceeds to new presidential elections at least forty-five (45) days and ninety (90) days at most after the vacancy is opened.”

Military men expected to be neutral

Akinola further stated that military men are expected to be politically neutral and not to interfere in the governance of the country, citing the provision of article 61 of the Chadian Constitution.

“Going by the above provisions in Chad’s constitution, it is clear that the announcement of the ex-president Deby’s son as the new president of Chad is unconstitutional and could be best described as coup and therefore condemnable. This kind of power drunk will draw African countries back,” the legal expert concluded.

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Nigeria backs temporary military rule

Reacting to the development in Chad, the Nigerian government warned that the unrest in the country following the death of President Deby and the interim transition of power to his son, General Mahamat, could spark a serious crisis in the Sahel.

In a press statement released on Wednesday, April 21, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted that the temporary military rule in the Central African nation is good at the moment to effect fragile peace and stability.

However, the foreign affairs minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, in the statement pointed out clearly that the ultimate and long-term solution is the return to democracy.


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