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Gabon military leader Brice Nguema sworn in as President after last week's coup ousting Ali Bongo

Gabon is now the sixth former France colony to fall prey to military coups in the last three years, a sign of weakening French influence in the region.

Aveek Banerjee Edited By: Aveek Banerjee New Delhi Published on: September 04, 2023 18:55 IST
Soldiers cheering for Gen. Brice Oligui Nguema after the
Image Source : AP Soldiers cheering for Gen. Brice Oligui Nguema after the military coup in Gabon

Nearly one week after soldiers staged a coup in Gabon and ousted Ali Bongo Ondimba from power, the country's military leader General Brice Clotaire Oligui Nguema was sworn in on Monday as the African nation's new President in the presidential palace in Libreville.

Oligui's ceremony was held in front of several government officials, military and local leaders. Interestingly, the military leader is a cousin of the ousted Ali Bongo and served as a bodyguard of his late father. He was also the head of the presidential guard. 

Oligui said the military had seized power without bloodshed and promised to return power to the people by organising free, transparent and credible elections. "With the new government, made up of experienced people, we're going to give everyone a chance to hope," he said. 

What happened in Gabon?

Gabon became the latest African country to plunge into political chaos after military soldiers seized power and announced the cancellation of elections and dissolution of institutions. This happened roughly after a month after a similar military coup in Niger, ousting a democratically-elected government led by President Mohamed Bazoum.

The dramatic development emerged after Ali Bongo, who has been in power for 14 years, was declared the winner of the presidential elections last week. Following the coup, Bongo was placed under house arrest in his residence, while several government officials were also arrested on various charges, said the military officers.

The detained Gabonese president called on his citizens to “make noise” after the coup attempt, but videos on social media showed a different scenario, where citizens were seen dancing and celebrating the military takeover on the streets of its capital Libreville. Some of them people can be seen shouting “liberated!” and waving the Gabon flag in the Nzeng Ayong district of the capital, alongside military vehicles. 

Bongo's family, which has ruled Gabon for 55 years, has been accused of corruption and getting richer on the oil-rich country's resource wealth, while many of its citizens are struggling to survive. The mutinous soldiers have accused Bongo of irresponsible governance that has risked leading the African nation into chaos.

Meanwhile, nine members of the Bongo family are under investigation in France, and some face preliminary charges of embezzlement, money laundering and other forms of corruption, according to Sherpa, a French NGO dedicated to accountability.

Gabon is now the sixth former France colony to fall prey to military coups in the last three years, a sign of weakening French influence in the region. The African nation been suspended from the African Union following the coup, which has been condemned by the UN and France, BBC reported.

However, Gabon's opposition candidate, Albert Ondo Ossa, told The AP last week that the government needed to return to constitutional rule and he didn't consider the president's ousting to be a coup but rather a “palace revolution” in order to continue the Bongo's family's reign.

(with agency inputs)

ALSO READ | Gabon's military coup: What led to President Ali Bongo Ondimba's ouster? EXPLAINED

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