Gabon’s new leader General Brice Oligui Nguema initiates diplomatic outreach following coup


In the aftermath of the recent coup that marked the end of the Bongo family’s 55-year rule, Gabon’s newly-appointed strongman, General Brice Oligui Nguema, wasted no time in establishing crucial connections with national groups and foreign entities.

General Oligui’s determined efforts to engage Gabon’s “vital forces” continued, with recent meetings encompassing representatives of civil society and prominent businessmen. The latter were subjected to a stern lecture on combating corruption.

On Friday, during a broadcast on state television, General Oligui issued a resolute warning to the oil-rich nation’s business leaders, cautioning against over-billing and emphasizing their responsibility towards the country’s development. He declared, “It is difficult to perceive, at this stage, your commitment or patriotism when it comes to the development expected by our compatriots,” promising to ensure that misappropriated funds would return to the state. “This situation, for me, cannot continue, and I will not tolerate it,” he affirmed.

Furthermore, General Oligui extended invitations to foreign donors, diplomats, and members of international organizations, although details of those meetings remained undisclosed. It’s worth noting that some embassies from countries and organizations that had condemned the coup opted to send lower-ranking officials rather than their senior representatives.

The coup, led by General Oligui, head of the elite Republican Guard, unfolded swiftly on Wednesday, toppling President Ali Bongo Ondimba, whose recent victory in presidential elections had been denounced as fraudulent by the opposition. The coup leaders announced the dissolution of the nation’s institutions, cancellation of election results, and closure of borders.

General Oligui is set to be sworn in as the “transitional president” on Monday, although many nations have yet to acknowledge him as Gabon’s legitimate leader. Pressure mounts for him to articulate his plans for the restoration of civilian rule.

This coup in Gabon joins a series of coups witnessed across Africa in recent years, with newly-instated leaders often facing calls for a prompt return to democratic governance. Ali Bongo Ondimba’s rule marked the continuation of a dynasty that began in 2009 following the passing of his father, Omar.

In response to his ouster, Ali Bongo claimed house arrest and expressed concerns about the detention of his son and wife, Sylvia. His son, Noureddin Bongo Valentin, and other apprehended officials have been featured in images broadcast on national TV alongside suitcases purportedly containing seized cash. They face charges of treason, embezzlement, corruption, and forgery of the president’s signature, among other allegations.

Sylvia Bongo, a Franco-Gabonese national, is at the center of an international legal dispute over her “arbitrary detention.” Lawyers in Paris are actively advocating for access to the French consulate in Libreville to ensure her well-being.

The turbulence in Gabon’s political landscape has captured global attention as the nation navigates this historic transition. The elder Bongo, who ruled for 41 years, left a complex legacy characterized by allegations of corruption and the intricate web of “Francafrique” diplomacy, a policy now widely criticized for advancing French interests in Africa through nepotism and political maneuvering.

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