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Thursday, February 29, 2024

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African Union Takes Away Membership Of Gabon Over Military Coup

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The West and Central Africa has witnessed another coup in recent days. After Gabon’s military officers ousted President Ali Bongo, the African Union (AU) took quick reaction and revoked the central African nation’s membership. This is the eighth coup the region since 2020.

The coup has made the political situation in the region, already facing multiple coups, more complex as it has ended a six-decade rule of Bongo family in the nation.  Nigerian President Bola Tinubu called these coups as a “contagion of autocracy”.

Reactions to Gabon’s coup

General Brice Oligui Nguema seized power and is seeking to consolidate his position as the new president. He will be sworn in on next Monday. The coup has faced international condemnation, and several regional and continental organizations have taken measures in response:

The African Union responded by barring Gabon’s participation in all its activities, organs, and institutions until constitutional order is restored. This is a common diplomatic action taken by the AU in response to unconstitutional changes of government within its member states.

Gabon is a member of Central Africa’s political bloc, which has also condemned the coup in a statement. The bloc is planning an “imminent” meeting of heads of state to determine how to respond to the situation. The statement does not specify a date for this meeting, but it is likely to involve discussions on possible regional actions and strategies to address the crisis.

“My fear has been confirmed in Gabon that copy cats will start doing the same thing until it is stopped,” said Tinubu, chairman of  West Africa’s main regional body ECOWAS, on Thursday.

Soon after an election authority stated that Bongo had easily won a third term in the elections held on Saturday, senior officers in Gabon proclaimed their coup before dawn on Wednesday. The junta blocked borders, abolished governmental institutions, and declared the election invalid.

Later on Wednesday, a video showing Bongo being arrested at home and pleading for assistance while oblivious to the events taking place around him surfaced online.

Alternance 2023, the biggest opposition party in Gabon, expressed gratitude to the junta on Thursday for ending the Bongos’ protracted rule.

Representative Mike Jocktane, though, emphasised that the leaders of the coup should complete what he claimed was an incomplete vote count. According to him, the results of the election would reveal that Albert Ondo Ossa, the leading opponent, had won.

Ondo Ossa came in a far distant second to Bongo in the results that were officially released on Wednesday.

Jocktane stated that in order to “avoid a future for our country even darker than the one we have been spared,” the opposition was ready to engage in dialogue with the junta.

The junta announced on Thursday that domestic flights had resumed and that some state institutions, including the Constitutional Court, had been restored.

Air and land borders, meanwhile, are still closed.

The recent coups in Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Chad, and Niger erased democratic achievements made since the 1990s, prompting anxiety among international powers with regional strategic interests. The events in Gabon follow those in other countries. The coups also demonstrated how little influence African nations have once the military takes control.

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