General Brice Oligui Nguema, leader of Gabon’s elite Republican Guard, is to be officially sworn in as the “transitional president” on Monday, September 04, 2023, following a military coup that ousted President Ali Bongo Ondimba, ending the Bongo dynasty’s 55-year rule.
The coup, which unfolded last week, was described as “bloodless” by General Oligui, with no reported casualties. The military coup leaders swiftly dissolved the nation’s institutions, nullified the election results, and temporarily closed the country’s borders, later opting to reopen them.
General Oligui has pledged to organise “free, transparent, credible and peaceful elections” but has not specified a timeline, emphasising the need for a new constitution to be adopted via referendum first. He also promised the establishment of more democratic institutions that respect human rights, albeit “without haste.”
While a faction of the former opposition is urging Oligui to transfer power, many Gabonese citizens have expressed satisfaction at the overthrow of the Bongo dynasty, leading to celebratory gatherings in the streets of Libreville and Port-Gentil, the nation’s economic hub.
A background to the coup in Gabon.
Former President Ali Bongo Ondimba, who had been seeking a third term, was reportedly placed under house arrest by the coup leaders and “retired.” In a video distributed on social media, Bongo claimed that his son and wife, Sylvia, had also been detained, and he called upon supporters worldwide to advocate on his behalf.
National TV broadcasts showcased images of Noureddin Bongo Valentin, the deposed president’s son, and other arrested officials standing alongside suitcases allegedly filled with seized cash. The military has leveled accusations of treason, embezzlement, corruption, and falsifying the president’s signature, among other charges.
Gabon joins a list of African nations, including Mali, Guinea, Sudan, Burkina Faso, and Niger, that have experienced coups in the last three years. In these countries, the new leadership has resisted demands for an immediate return to barracks.