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Gabon Military Seizes Power Following Disputed Election: A Series of Coups in West and Central Africa

Gabon, an oil-producing country in Central Africa, has experienced a coup led by military officers. President Ali Bongo was placed under house arrest after being declared the winner of a disputed election. This marks the eighth coup in West and Central Africa since 2020, reflecting a trend of democratic setbacks in the region. Other countries like Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, and Chad have also witnessed military takeovers, raising concerns for regional stability and foreign interests.

Coup Details:

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Gabon Military Seizes Power Following Disputed Election: A Series of Coups in West and Central Africa
  • Military officers announced the seizure of power, canceling election results and dissolving state institutions.
  • The officers declared President Bongo’s victory invalid and placed him under house arrest.
  • General Brice Oligui Nguema was appointed as the new leader through a unanimous vote by generals.

President’s Appeal and Public Reaction:

  • President Bongo, from detention, appealed to foreign allies for support, expressing uncertainty about the situation.
  • The military intervention was celebrated by hundreds of people in the capital, Libreville.
  • International entities such as the United Nations, African Union, and France (Gabon’s former colonial ruler) condemned the coup.

Regional Context:

  • The coup in Gabon is part of a series of military takeovers in the region since 2020.
  • Democratic gains achieved since the 1990s are being undermined, causing concern among foreign powers with strategic interests in the area.
  • Previous instances include coup attempts in Niger, Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, and Chad.

Bongo Family’s Rule and Challenges:

  • President Ali Bongo succeeded his father Omar in 2009, continuing a family legacy that dates back to 1967.
  • Critics claim that the Bongo family hasn’t adequately shared the country’s oil and mining wealth with its population of 2.3 million.

Election Controversy:

  • Violent unrest followed President Bongo’s contested election victory in 2016, and a coup attempt was foiled in 2019.
  • The recent election (Aug. 26) faced transparency concerns due to the absence of international observers, suspension of foreign broadcasts, and internet restrictions.

Economic and Geopolitical Implications:

  • Gabon is an oil-producing nation, generating about 200,000 barrels per day, with international companies like TotalEnergies and Perenco involved.
  • The coup introduces uncertainty for France’s regional presence, with concerns about the stability of foreign investments and military deployments.

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