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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.