On August 30, 2023, military officers in Gabon declared a coup and announced the overthrow of the 56-year-old political dynasty after the disputed election.
The coup attempt came hours after President Ali Bongo Ondimba was declared the winner of the election, which was criticized by international observers.
The soldiers who announced the coup called themselves the “Committee of the Transition and the Restoration of Institutions”.
They claimed to represent security and defense forces, and said that they had seized power to “save democracy and preserve the integrity of the national territory and national cohesion”.
The coup plotters claimed that President Ali Bongo was physically and mentally incapable of ruling the country.
The situation is still unfolding, and it is not yet clear who is leading the coup or what their objectives are.
The military officers who announced the coup said that Gabon will be ruled by “a national council of restoration” that will be set up shortly.
The African Union and the United Nations have both condemned the coup and called for a return to constitutional order.
The international community is closely monitoring the situation in Gabon, and it remains to be seen how the coup will affect the country’s political stability and economic development.
The Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions (CTRI) announced that Brice Clotaire Oligui Nguema, Chief Commander of the Republican Guard, will lead the organisation.
— LSI AFRICA (@lsiafrica) August 30, 2023
Who is Brice Oligui Nguema?
Nguema is one of the most influential and enigmatic figures in the country today having trained at the Royal Military Academy of Meknes in Morocco.
He then served as Omar Bongo’s aides-de-camp to a commander in former President Omar Bongo’s Republican Guard, until the former Gabonese leader’s death in 2009.
When Ali Bongo rose to power in October 2009, Nguema was sent to Morocco and Senegal for diplomatic missions.
According to Al Jazeera, 10 years later, the military man took over as the head of the guard, responsible for presidential security.
Besides military and diplomatic duties, Nguema was seen as entrepreneurial and also believed to be a millionaire in Gabonese circles.
Where is Gabon located in Africa?
Gabon is a country located on the west coast of Africa, astride the Equator.
It is bordered by Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon to the north, the Republic of the Congo to the east and south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west.
The capital of Gabon is Libreville.
The coup in Gabon occurred shortly after President Ali Bongo Ondimba was declared the winner of a disputed election.
The coup attempt took place following an election that was criticized by international observers.
The election results gave President Ali Bongo Ondimba a third term in office, but activists claimed that the election was rigged to maintain the ruling family’s power.
Mutinous soldiers in Gabon announced on television that they were taking control of the country, canceling the election results.
They claimed that President Ali Bongo Ondimba was no longer fit for office after suffering a stroke in October.
The soldiers went on state radio and broadcasted their message, declaring their intent to end the 50-year rule of President Ali Bongo’s family.
The Gabonese government swiftly responded to the coup attempt.
Government spokesman Guy-Bertrand Mapangou announced that two suspected plotters were killed and seven others were captured just hours after they took over state radio.
The government’s quick action prevented the coup from succeeding.
The coup attempt in Gabon reflects broader socio-economic and political frustration with the country’s leadership.
Gabon has experienced a sharp drop in oil output and prices, leading to squeezed revenues, increased debt and discontent among the population.