In Gabon, General Brice Oligui Nguema has been sworn in as interim president after last week’s coup. The army deposed President Ali Bongo after he was declared the winner of the election.
At the inauguration, Nguema called the coup a moment of national liberation. “When the people are crushed by their leader, the army restores the people’s dignity,” he said. The coup ended the rule of the Bongo family, who had ruled Gabon for 56 years.
In his speech, the interim president promised to hold a referendum on a new constitution and a new electoral law. He also undertook to review criminal law and promised that there would be free and transparent elections. It is not clear when that should take place.
Nguema promised to do everything to ensure national unity:
Nguema was a confidant of the Bongo family for many years. He heads the Republican Guard, the elite unit that protects the president. He was the former president’s personal security guard. Ali Bongo is now under house arrest in the presidential palace.
According to the coup plotters, the family did not do enough to distribute the wealth generated by oil and other resources in the country. Part of the population also thinks this way, and is happy that the Bongo family has cleared the field.
For the ninth time in three years, a coup has been committed in a West or Central African country. Earlier there were coups in Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso and Sudan, among others. The coups are mainly a result of the lack of action by presidents against the threat of jihadist groups.
Gabon, which is located further south in the region and has little to do with a terrorist threat, is an exception.
In a number of these countries there is also a great deal of dissatisfaction with the ties with former colonizer France, which often still exerted influence through those in power. With the coup in Gabon, there is a chance that France will lose another ally.
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