General Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, 37, who on Tuesday was named transitional leader as head of a military council in Chad following the death of his father Idriss Déby Itno, has been named president.

The youthful general Mahamat Idriss Deby, who stood watch over his father as head of the presidential guard, wore trademark dark glasses that hid a strong, little known personality.

In the aftermath of the death of president Idriss Deby Itno, who ruled the Sahel country for three decades, his 37-year-old son has quickly emerged as the new strongman.

The four-star general was not on any expert’s list of potential successors. The widespread belief was that the veteran warlord and president had not been overly concerned about grooming one.

But on Tuesday, Mahamat immediately took charge of a transitional military council, appointing 14 of the most trusted generals to run Chad until “free and democratic” elections promised in 18 months’ time.

And on Wednesday, the presidency released a charter saying the young general would “occupy the functions of the president of the republic” and also serve as head of the armed forces.

– Opposition parties denounce “an institutional coup” –

Chad’s main opposition parties on Wednesday denounced “an institutional coup” after Mahamat Idriss Déby took power following the death of his father Idriss Déby Itno.

Some thirty “political parties of the democratic opposition call for the establishment of a transition led by civilians (…) through an inclusive dialogue” in a statement.

Mahamat Idriss Déby, at the head of a Transitional Military Council (CMT), is “President of the Republic”, “Supreme Chief of the Armed Forces” and holds almost all powers.

The opposition “calls on the Chadian population not to obey the illegal, illegitimate and irregular decisions taken by the CMT, in particular the transitional charter, the curfew and the closure of borders”.

Among the signatories are the party of Saleh Kebzabo, Idriss Déby’s “historic” opponent, and the group of Succès Masra, one of the most fierce critics of the former president’s regime.

These parties also “warned” France, a former colonial power, which has supported the former head of state since his accession to power in 1990 at the head of a rebellion, “not to interfere in the internal affairs of Chad”.

Finally, they call on the international community “to accompany the Chadian people in the restoration of the rule of law and democracy”