Friday, April 12, 2024

Gabon seeks new future as the Bongo family dynasty collapses

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Isaac Kaledzi
Isaac Kaledzi
Isaac Kaledzi is an experienced and award winning journalist from Ghana. He has worked for several media brands both in Ghana and on the International scene. Isaac Kaledzi is currently serving as an African Correspondent for DW.

After over half a century in power, Gabon’s longest family dynasty – the Bongos has been ousted from power.

President Ali Bongo who had been declared winner of last weekend’s presidential election never saw it coming when soldiers seized power and detained him.

The electoral victory would have handed him a third term in office and extended the Bongo dynasty, which began when his father Omar took power in 1967.

A last minute changes to the electoral procedure sparked concerns among analysts who condemned the decision to ask voters to choose a president and parliamentary candidates from same party.

The were concerns the aftermath of the elections would trigger protests which would require the military to intervene, something they didn’t want to do this time round.

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Citizens have been celebrating his toppling by the soldiers, the second time he had faced such a mutiny. The first failed coup attempt was in 2018.

Bongo had pleaded in a video for his international allies to “make noise” as he was in detention with some of his families but it seems that plea may be too late.

While in power all elections that he won were widely seen in the international community as fraudulent.

Gabon’s oil wealth benefitted only the Bongo family and its allies while many lived in poverty. The Bongo dynasty had always been characterised by allegations of corruption.

Who is the new military leader?

Now Gabon has to look into the future in the absence of the Bongos and the man leading that charge in the meantime is General Brice Clotaire Oligui Nguema.

Gen Brice Oligui Nguema. Photo: AFP

Nguema was declared on Wednesday as head of the military junta that seized power. He is one of the most influential figures in Gabon currently.

Nguema is the the son of a military officer, who trained at Morocco’s Royal Military Academy.

He used to serve Ali Bongo’s father, the late President Omar Bongo.

Nguema shortly after Bongo came to power in 2009 was sent abroad on diplomatic missions officially.

He returned to Gabon to head the secret service before his 2019 appointment as head of the republican guard, a unit in charge of the president’s security.

General Oligui isn’t free from allegations which includes being part of the elite that have plundered the coffers of the oil-rich nation.

He is now set to be sworn in on Monday as transitional president before the Constitutional Court on Monday September 4.

“The President of the Transition will be sworn in before the Constitutional Court on Monday September 4, 2023 at the Presidency of the Republic”, announced Colonel Ulrich Manfoumbi Manfoumbi, spokesman for the Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions (CTRI), which brings together all army commanders, on state television.

Gabon will now be seeking a new future under the military regime hoping for a return to civilian rule sooner.


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