Gabon Military Overthrows Government, Desposes President

( – There’s a lot of corruption in politics, especially in third-world countries where questionable practices can lead to one person or family staying in power for decades. In these situations, voters have little recourse, unless they take matters into their own hands and overthrow the government. But doing so can be extremely difficult, especially when the government works to keep the populace divided.

In Gabon, a Central African nation, the Bongo family had been in charge for more than 50 years. Fed up with the seemingly rigged elections, several military officers engaged in a coup — and won.

What Happened?

On Saturday, August 26, voters in Gabon, an oil-rich country, headed to the polls to elect their president. By Wednesday, the results were in: President Ali Bongo had won a controversial third term. The Bongo family had already ruled the region for 56 years. The vote itself was also controversial because of imposed nighttime curfews and a decision to cut internet access, leading some, including Bongo’s rival, Albert Ondo Ossa, to cry fraud.

Later that day, military officers calling themselves The Committee of Transition and the Restoration of Institutions staged a coup and placed Bongo under arrest. They also arrested others, including Noureddin Bongo Valentin, Bongo’s son, on charges of treason and corruption.

They appeared on national television declaring that they had overthrown the government, which meant dissolving all state institutions, canceling election results, and closing the borders. Hours after the announcement, there was another message: General Brice Oligui Nguema was appointed to lead the transition.

Mixed Gabonese Responses

Gabonese citizens seemed to revel in the coup, celebrating in the streets and hugging one another. According to Reuters, one citizen, 27-year-old Jules Lebigui, said they were “joyful” after the coup. They cited the government’s failure to share the wealth derived from mining with the country’s populace.

On the other side, Bongo, who was holed up in his home, pleaded for international help, explaining he had no idea what was going on and asked foreign allies to speak out.

Global Response

While citizens in the country took the news in celebratory strides, not everyone agreed with the move. France, the African Union, and the United Nations all condemned it. A UN press release issued by a spokesperson for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Guterres is following the situation “very closely” and the UN as a whole “stands by the people of Gabon.” The United States is deeply concerned over the takeover as well.

This wasn’t the first coup attempt in the nation; one in 2019 failed. Africa has, in recent years, experienced several coups with military officers gaining power in several countries including Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Guinea.

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