On 20 April 2021, a spokesperson for the Chadian armed forces announced that President Idriss Déby Itno has succumbed to wounds he suffered during battles with the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT) rebel group. According to the spokesperson, Mahamat Kaka — Deby’s son and a military general — will lead a ruling transitional military council for 18 months. The transitional council has enacted a nightly curfew from 1800 to 0500 local time (1700-0400 UTC) and dissolved the constitution and the National Assembly. The council also announced the closure of land and air borders, although land borders were already shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional details regarding the newly announced closures were not immediately available. The army has stated that new elections will follow the 18-month transitional period. The announcement of Deby’s death came hours after he was declared the winner of the presidential election held on 11 April. Deby reportedly secured 79% of the vote and would have started his sixth term in office; he initially came to power in 1990 through an armed revolt.

Although the surprising announcement of Deby’s death came hours after he was reelected to office and circumstances surrounding his death are unclear, Deby — a former army commander-in-chief — was known to visit troops in the battlefield. On 19 April Deby’s campaign officials had stated that he would join the military at the frontlines of the conflict with FACT militants. The rebel group on the same day stated that its militants were retreating northward following several days of clashes with Chadian armed forces in Kanem province. FACT leaders referred to the move as a “strategic withdrawal” in order to reassess plans to continue advancing southward toward the capital N’Djamena.