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Montevideo, February 23rd 2024 - 03:31 UTC



Gabon: Deposed President's cousin to chair transitional committee

Thursday, August 31st 2023 - 08:48 UTC
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General Oligui had been a bodyguard for Bongo's late father and was the head of the secret service before becoming leader of the guard (Pic AP) General Oligui had been a bodyguard for Bongo's late father and was the head of the secret service before becoming leader of the guard (Pic AP)

The Gabonese military officers who seized power earlier this week in the African country Wednesday announced General Brice Clotaire Oligui Nguema, chief of the Republican Guard, was to be appointed president of the transitional committee.

 Meanwhile, deposed President Ali Bongo Ondimba was placed under house arrest. The military group said Bongo has “been placed in retirement,” according to Paris' Le Monde.

Oligui is Bongo's cousin. He had been a bodyguard for Bongo's late father, President Omar Bongo, and was the head of the secret service before becoming the leader of the guard.

(Read also: Military group overthrows President, seizes power in Gabon )

The rebels announced the coup on national TV after Bongo was declared the winner for a third term in Saturday's general elections. But the results were invalidated, all state institutions dissolved, and all borders closed by the military until further notice.

The 64-year-old Bongo later appeared in a video from his residence calling on “friends of Gabon” to support him.

But crowds poured into the streets of the capital, Libreville, to celebrate the news of the president's removal, with several demonstrators saying they were glad the Bongo family was out of power. Bongo took office in 2009 after the death of his father, Omar Bongo, who had ruled the oil-producing country for the previous 42 years.

Opponents say the family has failed to share the country's oil and mining wealth with its 2.3 million people. Nine members of the Bongo family are reportedly under investigation in France, and some face preliminary charges linked to corruption.

Saturday's elections were overshadowed by a lack of international observers, raising concerns about transparency. Afterward, Bongo's government curtailed internet service and imposed a nightly curfew across the nation, saying it was necessary to prevent the spread of misinformation.

Military officers said Bongo was under house arrest “surrounded by his family and doctors”, while one of his sons had been arrested for treason.

French Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne said Paris was following the situation in Gabon very closely.

China's foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin called for “all sides” to guarantee Bongo's safety, adding: “China is closely following the developing situation.”

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said on Wednesday he condemned the events in Gabon. “The Secretary-General is closely following the situation in Gabon and notes with deep concern the announcement of the election results amid reports of serious violations of fundamental freedoms,” Stephane Dujarric, Guterres' spokesperson, said in a statement. Guterres “strongly condemns the ongoing coup attempt to resolve the post-election crisis,” Dujarric added.

The secretary-general reiterates his strong opposition to military coups and urges all actors involved to exercise restraint, engage in inclusive and meaningful dialogue, and ensure that the rule of law and human rights are fully respected, the spokesperson said.

“The United Nations stands with the people of Gabon,” he said.

French oil giant TotalEnergies said in a press release that its top priority was to “ensure the safety of its employees and its operations” in Gabon. The group has 350 staff in Gabon and is the country's main distributor of petroleum products.

Gabon is one of the richest countries in Africa because of its large per capita GDP, due chiefly to its oil revenue and relatively small population of 2.3 million. However, a third of the population still lives below the poverty threshold, according to the World Bank.

Categories: Politics, International.

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