Gabon: African Union Suspends Gabon After Military Coup

The African Union building in Addis Ababa.

The military leaders said strongman Brice Oligui Nguema would be sworn in next week as "transitional president." Meanwhile, the country's main opposition alliance urged the military to continue the election process.

The African Union has suspended Gabon on Thursday from the continental bloc following the coup in the Central African state.

The AU's political affairs, peace and security department said on X, formerly Twitter, the country was suspended from participating in all its activities, organs and institutions until the restoration of constitutional order.

Military leaders in Gabon seized power on Wednesday and put the president, Ali Bongo Ondimba, under house arrest.

They rejected the results of the country's general elections, held last weekend, saying it was fraudulent.

Army chiefs seek to reassure partners

Meanwhile, Gabon's army chiefs pledged to respect the country's commitments at home and abroad.

Ulrich Manfoumbi Manfoumbi, spokesman for the Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions (CTRI) said on state TV that new strongman General Brice Oligui Nguema will be sworn in next Monday as "transitional president" at the constitutional court.

Nguema "would like to reassure all donors, development partners as well as state creditors that all provisions will be taken to guarantee respect for our country's commitments both externally and internally," Manfoumbi added.

Meanwhile, the country's main opposition alliance urged the military officers to continue the election process and finalize the presidential vote count. The opposition said the vote was falsely awarded to the now deposed president before the count was concluded.

EU chief says evacuations not planned yet

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Thursday that there were no plans yet for EU citizens' evacuation from Gabon.

Addressing reporters in the Spanish city of Toledo, Borrell compared the situation in Gabon to that in nearby Niger, where soldiers removed elected President Mohamed Bazoum last month.

"Naturally, military coups are not the solution, but we must not forget that in Gabon there had been elections full of irregularities," he said, arguing a rigged vote could amount to a civilian "institutional coup."

Later in a statement, Borrell said the bloc "rejects any seizure of power by force in Gabon."

"The challenges facing Gabon must be resolved in accordance with the principles of the rule of law, constitutional order and democracy.

The country's peace and prosperity, as well as regional stability, depend on it," the statement read.

The Toledo meeting involved EU foreign ministers discussing means to support the regional Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) bloc regarding the Niger coup.

Gabon, located on the west coast of central Africa, is not a member of ECOWAS. However, the latest developments raise concerns about political stability in the region.

What do we know about the Gabon coup?

A group of high ranking military officers on Wednesday appeared on TV to announce the nullification of the country's recent election results, citing a lack of credibility.

Gunfire rang out in the center of the capital, Libreville, shortly after the central African country's election committee declared early Wednesday morning that 64-year-old President Ali Bongo had won the election with 64.27% of the vote.

The coup leaders placed Bongo under house arrest for "treason," while other government figures had been detained on various charges. They later installed the head of the Republican Guard, General Brice Clotaire Oligui Nguema as the "transitional president."

They cited "irresponsible, unpredictable governance" leading to a deteriorating social climate as the reason for their intervention, aiming to restore peace by ending the current regime.

The group also announced that the "borders are closed until further notice."

Who is General Oligui Nguema?

General Brice Clotaire Oligui Nguema is reportedly cousin to the ousted President Ali Bongo.

Oligui used to be the bodyguard of Bongo's father, the late President Omar Bongo, said Desire Ename, a journalist with the local media outlet Echos du Nord.

Oligui was head of the secret service in 2019 before becoming head of the Republican Guard.

On Wednesday, he was "unanimously" designated president of a transitional committee of Gabon, the coup leaders said.

rmt, mk/rt (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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