Gen Nguema Named Transitional Leader After Gabon Coup
Army officers who seized power in a coup in Gabon on Wednesday have named General Brice Oligui Nguema as the West African state’s transitional leader.
Gen Nguema was earlier carried triumphally through the streets of the capital Libreville by his troops.
Deposed President’s Plea
The deposed President, Ali Bongo, has appeared in a video at his home, calling on his “friends all over the world” to “make noise” on his behalf.
Major Oil Producer
The former French colony is one of Africa’s major oil producers, and Mr Bongo’s overthrow ended his family’s 55-year hold on power.
Annulment of Election Results
Army officers appeared on TV in the early hours of Wednesday to say they had taken power. They also said they had annulled the results of Saturday’s election in which Mr Bongo was declared the winner but which the opposition said was fraudulent.
Arrest of President’s Son
The officers also said they had arrested one of Mr Bongo’s sons for treason.
Led by General Nguema
Within hours, generals met to discuss who would lead the transition and agreed by a unanimous vote to appoint Gen Nguema, former head of the presidential guard.
The coup was condemned by the UN, the African Union, and France, which had close ties to the Bongo family.
Resentment and Discontent
There has long been simmering resentment of the Bongo family, who ruled Gabon for 55 years, and there has been public discontent over broader issues such as the cost of living. Some residents expressed fear, but also joy at the regime’s overthrow.
Gabon Coup: The Basics
- Where is Gabon? Gabon is a country rich in oil and minerals on the west coast of Central Africa, with a population of just 2.4 million.
- Who is Ali Bongo? Ali Bongo was declared the winner of Saturday’s disputed elections and has been president since 2009. His father was in power for 41 years before him.
- Why was there a coup? The army does not accept the election results and took power to maintain peace.
Gen Nguema’s Background
Gen Nguema, 48, was absent from the initial statements made by senior army officers on national television to announce the coup. However, he was named transitional leader soon after.
He was a close aide-de-camp to the ousted leader’s father, Omar Bongo, and served him from 2005 until his death.
Under Ali Bongo, Gen Nguema worked in various roles, including military attache and intelligence chief under the elite republican guard – Gabon’s most powerful army unit.
Concerns About the Election Process
In this election, similar to previous ones, there were serious concerns about the process. The main opposition candidate and the coalition he represented complained about lacking ballot papers and the inclusion of names of withdrawn candidates on the ballot sheet.
Both of Mr. Bongo’s previous wins were disputed as fraudulent by opponents. In 2018, he suffered a stroke that led to calls for his resignation. The following year, a failed coup attempt caused mutinying soldiers to be sent to prison.