Coup Leaders Name Dictator’s Cousin ‘Transitional’ President

The “Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions” — which orchestrated a coup d’etat in Gabon, central Africa, on Wednesday — introduced that it had appointed General Brice Oligui Nguema as its interim president following the ouster of longtime strongman Ali Bongo Ondimba.

The Gabonese navy introduced in a televised assertion on Wednesday that it had positioned Bongo below home arrest and would seize energy within the nation, dissolving the management of all federal establishments. The transfer appeared to abruptly finish the Bongo household rule, which started in 1967. Ali Bongo turned president following the demise of his father, former dictator Omar Bongo of the Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG), in 2009.

The Bongo household didn’t permit political events outdoors the PDG to exist between 1967 and 1990. Following their legalization, the household held common sham elections to legitimize its stranglehold on energy. Gabon held such an election on Sunday and introduced Ali Bongo had allegedly gained in a landslide minutes earlier than the troopers appeared on tv on Wednesday, canceling the outcomes of the “election.”

Ali Bongo Ondimba in Ntoum, Gabon, on August 26, 2023. (Malkolm M./Afrikimages Agency/Universal Images Group by way of Getty Images)

The coup, if profitable, would be the eighth in Africa since 202o, placing Gabon in a rising membership of countries run by navy juntas presently made up of Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Guinea. Gabon itself experienced a coup try that Bongo quashed in 2019.

Oligui, the brand new interim chief, is reportedly Bongo’s cousin and the previous head of the presidential republican guard just like the chief of the Niger coup, General Abdourahmane Tchiani. Oligui reportedly served as Omar Bongo’s private bodyguard earlier than rising the ranks and main the nation’s secret service. The “Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions” announced that the nation’s navy chiefs had “unanimously” chosen Oligui because the nation’s new chief.

Oligui has but to make an acceptance speech or different nationwide declaration at press time. Reports had circulated all through the day on Wednesday suggesting that Oligui had orchestrated the coup, main the French newspaper Le Monde to achieve out to him. Oligui provided some temporary responses claiming that he wouldn’t declare himself president and claiming to ensure Bongo’s security in the course of the coup transition.

“I’m not declaring myself yet; I’m not considering anything yet. This is a debate that we are going to have with all the generals,” Oligui stated earlier than the generals declared him “president.”

General Brice Oligui Nguema in Libreville, Gabon, on August 16, 2023. (AFP by way of Getty Images)

Oligui claimed the coup was crucial as a result of Gabon suffered from generalized public “discontent,” and residents had been involved about Bongo’s well being after having a stroke in 2018.

“Everyone talks about it, but no one takes responsibility. He was not allowed to hold a third term; the Constitution was flouted; the way the election was done was not good,” Oligui stated. “So the military decided to turn the page, to take responsibility.”

The Gabonese navy junta was removed from the one entity to sentence this weekend’s elections as unfree and unfair. Bongo largely shut down entry to info, reducing web entry for civilians and banning the broadcasts of France 24, Radio France Internationale, and TV5 Monde on the grounds of alleged media bias. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) each condemned the Bongo regime’s silencing of stories sources.

“It is totally anachronistic to deprive foreign media of the possibility of covering such an important moment in a country’s democratic life when the need for diverse reporting is crucial for the population,” RSF Sub-Saharan Africa Bureau Director Sadibou Marong stated final week. “We condemn this unacceptable decision to close off the country and call on the Gabonese authorities to end it without delay.”

One of the coup regime’s first acts in energy was to revive public entry to the web.

In Libreville, the nationwide capital, crowds of residents appeared to welcome the coup with cheers and celebration, dancing and shouting within the streets.

Gabon 24, the nationwide information community, has performed a loop of such footage constantly for the previous day.

Bongo is believed to stay in military custody within the presidential property. Speaking to Le Monde, Oligui stated Bongo was now “retired” and would turn into “a normal Gabonese like everyone else.”

Bongo appeared in a video on social media on Wednesday, seemingly wholesome however involved. He urged the worldwide group to “make noise” to guard his regime in an English-language message and claimed he had no info on the state of the nation.

“I’m to send a message to all the friends that we have all over the world to tell them to make noise, to make noise,” Bongo stated in English. “For the people here have arrested me and my family. My son is somewhere, my wife is in another place, and I’m at the residence right now. I am at the residence, and nothing is happening.”

“I don’t know what’s going on,” he added.

Soldiers in tv footage on Thursday appeared to seek out baggage of cash in varied currencies within the dwelling of Yann Ngulu, the chief of workers to Bongo’s son, Nourredine Bongo. The movies appeared to strengthen the allegations by the coup leaders that the Bongo household was hoarding the oil-rich nation’s wealth on the expense of normal individuals. The troopers stated of their preliminary assertion on Wednesday that they meant to prosecute Bongo relations and regime officers on prices of corruption and treason.

Nine Bongo relations are already reportedly below investigation for alleged cash laundering and embezzlement in France, Africa News reported on Thursday.

“Investigators have linked the family to more than $92 million in properties in France,” Africa News added, citing the French NGO Sherpa.

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.

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