Sunday, March 3, 2024

Gabon coupists name ousted President Bongo’s cousin General Brice Nguema as interim leader

According to local media reports in Gabon, Mr Nguema was Mr Bongo’s cousin.

• August 31, 2023
General Brice Nguema and ousted Gabon President Ali Bongo
General Brice Nguema and ousted Gabon President Ali Bongo

Following the ouster of President Ali Bongo on Wednesday, the Gabon military coup plotters have named General Brice Oligui Nguema as the junta’s transition leader.

According to local media reports in Gabon, Mr Nguema was Mr Bongo’s cousin.

The putschists announced Mr Nguema’s emergence as the interim leader in a national broadcast on the same day the junta overthrew Mr Bongo’s government despite criticism from international communities.

Mr Nguema was trained at the Royal Military Academy of Meknes in Morocco.

He served as aide-de-camp to a commander in former President Omar Bongo’s Republican Guard until 2009. After taking over the reins of power, Mr Bongo sent him on a diplomatic mission to Morocco and Senegal.

In 2019, Mr Nguema replaced Mr Bongo’s step-brother as head of Gabon’s Republican Guard, an elite force protecting Mr Bongo, his family and other high-profile figures.

On Wednesday, military officers toppled Mr Bongo’s government after he was declared winner of Saturday’s election, condemned as fraudulent.

“In the name of the Gabonese people… we have decided to defend the peace by putting an end to the current regime,” the coup plotters declared, cancelling the election result and dissolving the electoral body, national assembly and constitutional court.

From detention, Mr Bongo cried out for help, asking friends and international communities to “make noise,” raising the alarm about development in his country.

Mr Bongo’s ouster ended his family’s 53-year control of power in Gabon. Mr Bongo took over power in 2009 after his father, Omar Bongo, died.

Though he suffered a stroke in 2018, sparking calls for him to step down, Mr Bongo held on to power, conducting another election and was declared winner on Saturday.

In an exclusive interview with France’s LeMonde newspaper, Mr Nguema, when asked if the coup was planned “for a long time” or was triggered by the August 26 election results, said, “You know that in Gabon there is discontent and, beyond this discontent, there is the illness of the head of state. Everyone talks about it, but no one takes responsibility. He (Mr Bongo) did not have the right to serve a third term. The Constitution was violated, and the method of election itself was not good. So, the army decided to turn the page to take its responsibilities.”

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