President Idriss Deby of Chad has stated that the Boko Haram sect is no longer led by Abubakar Shekau, but by a new person who goes by the name Mahamat Daoud.
Deby, whose troops have been involved in battling Boko Haram, said Mr. Daoud was open to dialogue.
Shekau has not featured in the group’s recent videos, leading to speculation that he may actually have been killed.
Deby spoke in the capital N’Djamena on the 55th anniversary of Chad’s independence from France.
According to him, efforts to combat neighbouring the sect had succeeded in “decapitating” the group and would be wrapped up “by the end of the year”.
Deby said: “Boko Haram is decapitated. There are little groups (of Boko Haram members) scattered throughout east Nigeria, on the border with Cameroon. It is within our power to definitively overcome Boko Haram.
“The war will be short, with the setting up of the regional force, it will be over by the end of the year,” Deby added, referring to a new five-country force aimed at ending Boko Haram’s bloody six-year Islamist insurgency that he said would be “operational in a few days”.
Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria have all pledged troops towards the new force.
Deby also stated that “There is someone apparently called Mahamat Daoud who is said to have replaced Abubakar Shekau and he wants to negotiate with the Nigerian government.
“For my part, I would advise not to negotiate with a terrorist”.
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