• Friday, June 21, 2024
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Gabon coup leader Brice Nguema sworn in as interim President

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In a televised ceremony on Monday, Brice Nguema, the leader of Gabon‘s military junta, officially assumed the role of interim president, as sanctioned by the country’s constitutional court. This event comes in the wake of last week’s coup, led by Nguema, which resulted in the removal of President Ali Bongo Ondimba from power.

The military takeover signifies a significant shift in Gabonese politics, putting an end to the long-standing dominance of the Bongo family.

Read also: Gabon coup: A threat to sustainable democracy in Africa

Ali Bongo, aged 64, had inherited the presidency from his father, Omar Bongo, who ruled Gabon with an iron grip for over four decades until his passing in 2009. Leading up to the coup, Bongo, who had been in office for nearly 14 years, was declared the winner of a controversial presidential election.

This election was marred by voting delays, disruptions to internet access, and attempts by the Bongo administration to obstruct foreign press coverage.

In the aftermath of the coup, the ousted leader was placed under house arrest by the junta, which also nullified the election results and sealed the country’s borders. These actions drew condemnation from the international community.

Read also: U.S condemn Gabon coup

Meanwhile, within Gabon, thousands of supporters rallied in solidarity with the military, celebrating the change in leadership.

Nguema, a former bodyguard of Omar Bongo, swiftly assumed the role of a transitional leader. His inauguration as interim president was marked by a military parade and enthusiastic cheers from his civilian supporters.

Prior to his swearing-in, Nguema authorised the reopening of Gabon’s borders and engaged in discussions with political leaders to address reform and the potential duration of the transitional period, according to local media reports.

The duration of Nguema’s tenure remains uncertain, as he expressed a reluctance to rush into new elections in an effort to avoid repeating past mistakes, as reported by Reuters.

In response, a coalition of opposition parties in Gabon has called on the junta to resume the electoral process and complete the vote count, which could potentially lead to victory for opposition leader Albert Ondo Ossa, the runner-up in the annulled election.

This recent coup in Gabon adds to a growing trend of political upheaval in former French colonies across Africa, including Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger, Tunisia, and now Gabon.

These events have raised concerns about the erosion of democratic progress in the region. Many Gabonese citizens perceive the ousting of President Bongo as a significant victory for their country, which, despite its oil wealth, grapples with widespread poverty.