Military Coup in Gabon - Another Former French Colony in Africa
Several former French colonies in Africa seem to be engulfed in military coups. While experts attribute this alarming trend to high levels of poverty, poor governance, excessive French influence, and ineffective civil societies, the speed and similarity of these military coups in Niger and Gabon are causing reflection. This marks the ninth state coup in the region over the past three years.
On the eve, a group of military officers in Gabon declared that they had seized power, dissolved state institutions, and placed President Bongo under house arrest, according to DW.
The situation mirrors the recent military coup in Niger.
The soldiers who assumed power in Gabon on Wednesday stated, "Today, our country is experiencing a serious political crisis."
They asserted that there was "irresponsible, unpredictable governance that led to a continuous deterioration of social cohesion, risking the country's descent into chaos," thus the military decided to "protect peace by ending the ruling regime."
President Ali Bongo of Gabon intended to extend his 14-year rule after the electoral commission declared him the winner of the presidential elections last Saturday.
This would have extended his family's 55-year tenure in power in the country.
However, a group of high-ranking military officers in Gabon appeared on television on Wednesday to announce the annulment of the recent elections' results in the country, citing a lack of trust.
Gunfire erupted in the centre of the capital Libreville shortly after the Central African country's electoral commission announced early Wednesday that 64-year-old President Ali Bongo had won the elections, garnering 64.27% of the votes.
Later, the leaders of the state coup announced that Bongo had been placed under house arrest for "state treason," and other government officials had been detained on various charges.
The junta also declared that "Gabon's borders are closed until further notice."
Later on Wednesday, the leaders of the coup appointed General Brice Clotaire Oligui Nguema as the "transitional president."
Recall that a month ago in Niger, the presidential guard took President Muhammadu Buhari and his residence, along with key ministries, into custody. The soldiers announced the coup on national television, declaring the constitution abolished, all institutions suspended, and the country's borders closed.
Niger and Gabon are former French colonies. Gabon holds significant reserves of oil, manganese, and iron ore, as well as deposits of gold, diamonds, lead, niobium, and phosphates.
Niger is a significant exporter of uranium, accounting for 5% of global production. It has been a key ally of the West in combating insurgents and illegal migration from countries south of the Sahara. The likely leader of the junta in Niger is Modibo Salif, who has connections to the junta in Mali, which, in turn, is known for its cooperation with the Russian Wagner Group.