France's Macron backs Chad's 'stability and integrity'

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French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday vowed support for Chad's "stability" at the funeral of veteran ruler Idriss Deby Itno, but also urged his military successors to steer a smooth return to civilian rule.

"France will never let anyone, either today or tomorrow, challenge Chad's stability and integrity," Macron said at ceremonies for Deby, who the authorities say died from wounds sustained fighting rebels.

Macron paid tribute to Deby, saying "you lived as a soldier, you died as a soldier, weapons in your hands."

"France is also there to sustain the promise of a peaceful Chad," he said.

But he also called on the newly-appointed military government headed by his son Mahamat Idriss Deby to foster "stability, inclusion, dialogue, democratic transition."

Chad under Deby has been a cornerstone of France's anti-jihadist strategy in the Sahel, hosting the headquarters of its 5 100-man Barkhane force.

France was also a staunch ally of Deby, twice coming to his rescue to thwart attempted coups during his 30-year tenure.

READ | Thousands gather to wish Chad's slain president 'a deserved rest'

Deby, 68, has been succeeded by his son, a general who until now has commanded the top-notch Republican Guard.

He was named president and head of a transitional military council after the announcement on Tuesday of Deby's death, and parliament and the government have been dissolved.

The 37-year-old will wield full powers but has promised "free and democratic" elections after an 18-month transition period.


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