Chad’s President Idriss Deby died at 68 from injuries sustained in battle against rebels in the country’s north, an army spokesman was quoted as saying by AFP on Tuesday. Deby was in power for three decades which made him one of Africa’s longest-ruling leaders.

Deby was born to a herder from the Zaghawa ethnic group who took the path to power through the army and was content in the military culture.

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In his earlier days, Deby enrolled at the officers’ academy in the capital N’Djamena before heading to France, where he trained as a pilot. He then became an army chief after former president Hissene Habre came to power.

In 1989, he was accused by Habre of plotting a coup, following which he fled to Sudan, where he assembled an armed rebel group – the Patriotic Salvation Movement. He seized power the next year, when his troops roll into capital N’Djamena.

Following six years of democratic transition, Deby was elected head of state in Chad’s first multi-party vote in 1996.

He has stayed in power since, being re-elected for a sixth term after gaining 79.32 % of the vote in the April 11 presidential election, the electoral commission stated. He had campaigned with a promise of bringing about peace and security to the region.

The late president’s son, Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno, will now lead the military council.