News24

Chad opposition leader Kamouge dies

2011-05-09 18:03

N'Djamena - Chadian opposition leader General Wadal Abdelkader Kamougue, one of the country's great political survivors, died on Monday aged 72, opposition sources and the president's office said.

Kamougue, who led the Union for Renewal and Democracy (URD), helped to overthrow the first president of the coup-prone nation and served in the governments of four others, including incumbent Idriss Deby despite being against him.

Saleh Kebzabo, head of the main opposition National Union for Renewal and Development, told AFP: "He fell in the shower this morning, almost certainly after a heart attack."

"He was ill last week but was determined to finish the campaign for the by-election" on Friday at Bedjiondo in the south, where his wife was standing, Kebzabo said.

Born in southern Gabon in 1939 while his father was serving in the French army, Kamougue, also chose a military career, and took part in the coup that overthrew Chad's first president, Ngarata Tombalbaye, in 1975.

He served as foreign minister under military leader Felix Malloum and then vice-president in the government of Goukouny Weddeye, who was overthrown by Hissene Habre in 1982.

In 1987, however, Kamougue became Habre's agriculture minister.

A southern Christian, Kamougue held posts in several governments after Deby seized power in 1990, and was an advisor with ministerial rank in the current cabinet.

He was also speaker of parliament, but he ran against Deby in the 1996 and 2001 presidential elections. He boycotted the next three polls in 1996, 2006 and 2011.

Kamougue died as authorities were due to announce the result of the April presidential elections, which the opposition boycotted in protest at the conduct of the February parliamentary elections.

Those polls saw Deby's Patriotic Salvation Movement (MPS) win an absolute majority with 113 of the 188 seats in parliament against a fragmented and underfunded opposition of more than 100 parties.