Chad's victorious rebels were settling into power Monday after a lightning offensive that toppled President Hissene Habre's 8-year-old government in just three weeks.

Rebel Gen. Idriss Deby cruised Sunday into the undefended capital N'Djamena, left wide open by the fleeing president, and pledged a return to multiparty politics."The MPS (Popular Salvation Movement) will see to it that Chad becomes a democratic country," the 37-year-old ex-army commander told French radio. "I'm going to bring changes. We will take our responsibilities."

Asked if he would accept a multiparty system in the impoverished central African country for the first time since 1962, he replied, "Absolutely."

Habre's fate was unclear. Libya, his sworn enemy, said he was killed as he attempted to flee.

But sources in N'Djamena and France said he had gone into hiding in neighboring Cameroon after slipping out of the capital Friday night with his family and senior members of his government.

Witnesses said French troops stepped into the power vacuum to halt widespread looting that took place as news of Habre's departure spread. Cars and offices were burned and the presidential palace sacked.