Gabon’s Military Chief Vows Temporary Suspension of Democracy with No Timelines for Elections

Gabon is facing a political crisis as the military takes control of the country and suspends democracy. The new military leader, Gen Brice Oligui Nguema, promises to restore democracy eventually but refuses to provide a timeline for fresh elections. The opposition coalition remains skeptical about the military’s intention to hand power back to a civilian government. The deposed president, Ali Bongo, has been placed under house arrest as the military asserts its control.

The military’s appearance on state TV to declare their seizure of power marked the end of the Bongo family’s 55-year reign in Gabon. They also invalidated the results of the recent presidential election, which declared Ali Bongo as the winner but faced allegations of fraud from the opposition. Gen Nguema asserts that they want to avoid repeating mistakes by quickly establishing a new electoral process and ensuring a democratic transition.

Gabon’s main opposition group, Alternance 2023, claims to be the rightful winner of the election and calls on the international community to support the return of civilian rule. They see the military’s plan for Gen Nguema to become the transitional president as absurd and urge the military to relinquish power to civilians. The coup in Gabon adds to the series of political instability in west and central Africa, with Niger, Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, and Chad witnessing similar events since 2020.

The UN, the African Union, and France condemn the coup in Gabon. France, as Gabon’s former colonial power, had close ties to the Bongo family. However, the removal of Ali Bongo has been met with celebration by many Gabonese citizens who have grown resentful of his long-standing regime. Crowds in the capital and other cities were seen jubilantly welcoming the army’s intervention.

The international community now faces the challenge of addressing the power vacuum and ensuring a peaceful transition of power in Gabon. Pressure must be exerted on the military to fulfill their promise of returning the country to democracy. Diplomatic efforts should aim to mediate a consensual solution that respects the will of the Gabonese people and avoids further deteriorating the already fragile political situation. Stability and democratic governance must be restored to safeguard the rights and aspirations of all Gabonese citizens.