Foreign leaders have started arriving for the funeral of slain President Idriss Deby as France backed the country’s new military leaders in the face of threats from rebels to resume an offensive on the capital.
The presidents of Guinea and Mali arrived in the capital N’Djamena, state television showed, despite warnings from the rebels that foreign leaders should not attend for security reasons. French President, Emmanuel Macron, was also due to travel to Chad overnight for the funeral on Friday.
A military council, led by General Mahamat Idriss Deby, took power after his father, who had ruled for 30 years and was a close ally of Western powers in the fight against Islamist militants, was killed in battle with the rebels on Monday.
General Deby, 37, has said the army will hold democratic elections in 18 months, but opposition leaders have condemned his takeover as a coup d’etat and an army general said many officers were opposed to the transition plan.
The Libya-based rebels, who are not linked to the Islamists, said on Wednesday they would end a brief ceasefire at midnight and were about 200-300 km (125-190 miles) from the capital.
They could not be reached for comment on Thursday. A Chadian military source told Reuters that as of mid-day there was no rebel activity.
France, Chad’s former colonial ruler, defended the military takeover on Thursday, saying it was necessary for security amid “exceptional circumstances”.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the military was justified in its actions as the speaker of parliament had declined to take charge.
“Logically, it should be (speaker Haroun) Kabadi…but he refused because of the exceptional security reasons that were needed to ensure the stability of this country,” Le Drian told France 2 television.