The head of Gabon’s military junta, General Brice Oligui Nguema, has taken the oath of office as the interim president of the nation.
General Nguema orchestrated a coup last Wednesday, ousting President Ali Bongo shortly after Bongo was declared the victor in a contested election. The coup was justified by military officers who pointed to a range of crises within the institutions, political sphere, economy, and society as their motivation.
Nonetheless, BBC reported that there are apprehensions that Gen Nguema’s leadership might represent a prolongation of the 55-year Bongo dynasty. The general spent a significant portion of his career within the Bongo family’s inner circle and is even believed to be a cousin of Ali Bongo.
Omar Bongo, the father of Ali Bongo, held office for 41 years until his passing in 2009, after which his son took over.
Following the announcement of Bongo’s removal, the soldiers, who introduced themselves as part of the Committee of Transition and Restoration of Institutions (CTRI), declared their intention to dissolve all the republic’s establishments and shut down the nation’s borders.
However, on Saturday, the leaders of the coup reversed this decision, reopening the borders, citing their concerns about upholding the rule of law, maintaining positive relations with neighboring countries and the global community, and honoring international agreements.
Gabon has become the sixth French-speaking nation to experience a shift to military governance in the past three years, a trend that coincides with France’s challenges in retaining its influence over the African continent. The coup has drawn condemnation from both the United Nations and France and Gabon has faced suspension from the African Union.