In a stunning turn of events, the African Union’s Peace and Security Council has taken swift action by announcing the “immediate suspension” of Gabon in response to the recent military coup that shook the nation.
The council expressed strong condemnation of the military’s seizure of power in Gabon, a response to contested elections that declared President Ali Bongo Ondimba the winner. This decision was announced on X (formerly Twitter) and marks a significant shift in the dynamics of power in the region.
In the wake of rampant coup d’états in Africa, some sit-tight African leaders have embarked on frantic mass retirement of military officers to protect their positions. The president of Rwanda and commander-in-chief of Rwanda Defence Force, Paul Kagame, yesterday approved the retirement of 12 generals and 1,013 other senior officers. The decision comes barely 48 hours after a military coup in Gabon ousted President Ali Bongo from power after 14 years in office.
The President of Cameroon Paul Biya announced a reshuffling in the Central African country’s defence ministry with new appointments to the Controle Generale des Armees.
The announcement by the AU to suspend Gabon was made following a high-level meeting chaired by Bankole Adeoye of Nigeria, the African Union commissioner for political affairs, along with Willy Nyamitwe of Burundi, the current holder of the council’s rotating chair.
The military takeover effectively ended the Bongo family’s nearly sixty-year reign, adding yet another layer of complexity to a region that has grappled with a string of eight coups since 2020.
Nigeria’s newly elected president, Bola Tinubu, who also chairs the West African regional body ECOWAS, decried the situation as a “contagion of autocracy.” Tinubu expressed concerns about the potential for copycat actions across the region if the trend of military takeovers continues unchecked.
General Brice Oligui Nguema, the figure at the center of the military coup and former head of the presidential guard, is set to be sworn in as the transitional president on Monday, September 4 with no transition plan to democracy announced yet.
This marks a pivotal moment for Gabon as it adjusts to a new leadership structure under the Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions (CTRI). The military has stated its intention to uphold commitments at home and abroad, even as donors remain watchful of the unfolding situation.
The international response to the coup has been robust. ECCAS (Economic Community of Central African States) issued a statement condemning the coup and hinted at an impending meeting of heads of state to strategize on a coordinated response. However, a specific date for this meeting was not provided.
The coup itself took the world by surprise as senior officers in Gabon seized power shortly after election results declared Bongo’s victory. A video later emerged showing Bongo detained in his residence and appealing for international assistance, highlighting the chaotic nature of the unfolding events.
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