Chad’s President Idriss Deby Itno has died on the battlefield after three decades in power, the army announced on state television on Tuesday.

The late President said last week he was headed to the front lines to join troops battling “terrorists.” This followed rebel raid in the provinces of Tibesti and Kanem carried out by the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), based in Libya.

The stunning announcement of the President’s death came just hours after electoral officials had declared Deby, 68, the winner of the April 11 presidential election, paving the way for him to stay in power for six more years.

Chad President Idriss Deby(Ludovic Marin, Pool via AP)

In a statement read out on state television on Tuesday, army spokesman General Azem Bermandoa Agouna said Deby, 68, “has just breathed his last defending the sovereign nation on the battlefield” over the weekend.

General Mahamat Kaka, the son of the deceased Chadian leader, is named interim head of state, the army spokesman said.

The news of the President’s death comes after provisional election results released on Monday showed that Deby had won a sixth term.

He had been in power since 1990 following an armed rebellion.