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By Vhahangwele Nemakonde

Digital Deputy News Editor

Ramaphosa condemns Chad’s rebels, as Shivambu calls them ‘freedom fighters’

Chad's president, Deby, was killed in a battle over the weekend after provisional results showed him winning the April 11 election.


President Cyril Ramaphosa has condemned the violence by “rebels” that claimed Chad’s President Idriss Deby Itno, but Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) deputy president Floyd Shivambu believes they’re “freedom fighters”.

The Chadian president died on the battlefield, where he had been commanding his army at the weekend as it battled against rebels who’d launched a major incursion into the north of the country on election day.

On Monday, the army claimed a “great victory” in its battle against the rebels from neighbouring Libya, saying it had killed 300 fighters, with the loss of just five soldiers in its own ranks during eight days of combat.

In a statement on Wednesday, Ramaphosa, “on behalf of the government and people of South Africa”, extended condolences to the fallen president’s family and people of Chad.

“President Ramaphosa has furthermore expressed the concern of the South African government at developments in the Republic of Chad involving armed groups,” reads the statement.

“President Ramaphosa says an immediate cessation of violence is necessary to bring peace and stability to the Republic of Chad as part of ending conflict on the continent. We condemn in the strongest terms the violence that has claimed so many lives, including that of President Déby. We call for calm and a cessation of fighting.”

READ MORE: Chad’s president Deby dies after fighting rebels on battlefield

Ramaphosa may have extended his condolences on behalf of people of South Africa, but Shivambu is not one of them.

Shivambu called Deby, 68, a “puppet colonial administrator of French imperialism”. According to Shivambu, what others have been calling “rebels” are, in fact, “freedom fighters” who were fighting against French colonialism.

“Idriss Deby, the Puppet colonial administrator of French imperialism (imposed as President of Chad since 1990) is dead after 31 years in power. He was killed when trying to be a hero fighting against Freedom Fighters. Chad must be liberated from French colonialism. It’s overdue,” he said.

Deby would have been one of the longest-serving leaders in the world, after provisional results showed him winning the April 11 election.

He ruled Chad with an iron fist for three decades but was a key ally in the West’s anti-jihadist campaign in the troubled Sahel region.

The army said a military council led by the late president’s 37-year-old son Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, a four-star general, would replace him.

Additional reporting by AFP

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