Chad’s new military rulers named Albert Pahimi Padacke, who was runner-up in the Sahel country’s April 11 presidential election, as prime minister of a transitional government on Monday a week after President Idriss Deby’s battlefield death – an appointment quickly dismissed by an opposition leader.
A military council seized power after Deby was killed as he visited troops fighting rebels on April 19. Opposition politicians have called the military takeover a “coup”, and one said on Monday the army had no right to pick a premier.
The transition and the wrangling around it are being closely watched in a country that is a key power in central Africa and a longtime Western ally against armed groups across the Sahel.
The military council headed by Deby’s son, Mahamat Idriss Deby, has said it will oversee an 18-month transition to elections.
But it is coming under international pressure to hand over power to civilians as soon as possible. The African Union has expressed “grave concern” about the military takeover, while France and regional powers are pushing for a civilian-military solution.
Padacke served as prime minister from 2016 to 2018 and was seen as one of Deby’s allies, despite running against him several times. He came second with 10.3 percent of the vote in an April 11 election. Deby was declared winner right before he was killed.
Yacine Abderamane, president of the opposition Reformist Party, told Reuters news agency he would not accept Padacke’s nomination.
“It is not up to the transitional military council to designate a prime minister in this isolated manner. We want there to be talks between political parties, civil society and other actors in order to reach a consensus,” he said.
Chad’s armed forces announced last week that Deby had died from wounds suffered while leading soldiers on the front line against the rebel Libya-based Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT) group advancing from the north towards Ndjamena. He was 68.
The military council on Sunday vowed to root out FACT leader Mahamat Mahadi Ali, accusing him of “war crimes” and seeking help from neighbouring Niger to track him down along with his fighters.
The army has “located the enemy spread out in small groups, now regrouping in Niger territory”, said military council spokesman Azem Bermandoa Agouna.