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11512 Posts

Posted - 30 Aug 2023 :  18:15:06  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Gabon coup: Army seizes power from Ali Bongo and puts him in house arrest

A clear conscience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone


11512 Posts

Posted - 30 Aug 2023 :  18:48:24  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
LIBREVILLE, Gabon (AP) — Mutinous soldiers claimed to have seized power in Gabon on Wednesday and put the president under house arrest, hours after he was declared the winner in an election extending his family’s 55-year rule in the oil-rich Central African nation.

In a video apparently from detention in his residence, President Ali Bongo Ondimba called on people to “make noise” to support him. But the crowds who took to the streets of the capital instead celebrated the coup attempt against a dynasty accused of getting rich on the country’s resource wealth while many of its citizens struggle.

“Thank you, army. Finally, we’ve been waiting a long time for this moment,” said Yollande Okomo, standing near soldiers from Gabon’s elite republican guard, one of the units that staged the takeover.

Bongo, 64, has served two terms since coming to power in 2009 after the death of his father, who ruled the country for 41 years, and there has been widespread discontent with his reign. Another group of mutinous soldiers attempted a coup in 2019 but was quickly overpowered.

The former French colony is a member of OPEC, but its oil wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few — and nearly 40% of Gabonese aged 15 to 24 were out of work in 2020, according to the World Bank. Its oil export revenue was $6 billion in 2022, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, or $2,720 per capita.

Nine members of the Bongo family, meanwhile, are under investigation in France, and some face preliminary charges of embezzlement, money laundering and other forms of corruption, according to Sherpa, a French NGO dedicated to accountability. Investigators have linked the family to more than $92 million in properties in France, including two villas in Nice, the group says.

A spokesman for the soldiers who claimed power Wednesday said that Bongo’s “unpredictable, irresponsible governance” risked leading the country into chaos. In a later statement, the coup leaders said people around the president had been arrested for “high betrayal of state institutions, massive embezzlement of public funds (and) international financial embezzlement.”

Some analysts warned that the takeover risked bringing instability and could have more to do with divisions among the ruling elite than efforts to improve the lives of ordinary Gabonese. Celebrating soldiers hoisted the head of the republican guard — who is a relative of Bongo — into the air. It’s unclear if the military intends to name him as their new leader.

The coup attempt came about one month after mutinous soldiers in Niger seized power from the democratically elected government, and is the latest in a series of coups across West and Central Africa in recent years. The impunity those putschists enjoyed may have inspired the soldiers in Gabon, said Maja Bovcon, senior analyst at Verisk Maplecroft, a risk assessment firm.

In weekend elections, Bongo faced an opposition coalition led by Albert Ondo Ossa, an economics professor and former education minister whose surprise nomination came a week before the vote. Every election held in Gabon since the country’s return to a multiparty system in 1990 has ended in violence, and there were fears this one would as well.

The vote was criticized by international observers, but a relative calm prevailed until the early hours of Wednesday, when Bongo was declared the winner. Minutes later, gunfire was heard in the center of the capital, Libreville. Later, a dozen uniformed soldiers appeared on state television and announced that they had seized power.

Soon after, crowds poured into the streets. Shopkeeper Viviane Mbou offered the soldiers juice.

“Long live our army,” said Jordy Dikaba, a young man walking with his friends on a street lined with armored policemen.

Libreville is a stronghold of support for the opposition, but it was unclear how the coup attempt was seen in the countryside, where more people traditionally back Bongo.

The president pleaded for support in a video showing him sitting in a chair with a bookshelf behind him. He said he was detained in his residence and that his wife and son were elsewhere.

“I’m calling you to make noise, to make noise, to make noise really,” he said in English. The video was shared with The Associated Press by BTP Advisers, a communications firm that helped the president with polling for the election.

The coup leaders have said the president was under house arrest, surrounded by family and doctors.

Ossa, the opposition leader, told The AP he wasn’t ready to comment and was waiting for the situation to evolve.

“Gabon was in a midst of another electoral coup, so a coup chased another coup and the latest one has more chances of being popular, but let’s remain cautious,” said Thomas Borrel, a spokesperson for the Paris-based human rights group Survie, which advocates against France’s interventionist policies in Africa. “If a military dictatorship replaces Bongo’s dictatorship, the Gabonese population would lose again.”

The mutinous officers vowed to respect “Gabon’s commitments to the national and international community.” But the coup attempt threatened to bring the economy to a halt.

A man who answered the phone at the airport said flights were canceled Wednesday, and the private intelligence firm Ambrey said all operations at the country’s main port in Libreville had been halted, with authorities refusing to grant permission for vessels to leave. Several French companies said they were suspending operations and moving to ensure the safety of their staff.

“France condemns the military coup that is underway in Gabon and is closely monitoring developments in the country,” French government spokesperson, Olivier Veran, said Wednesday.

France has maintained close economic, diplomatic and military ties with Gabon, and has 400 soldiers stationed in the country leading a regional military training operation. The U.S. Africa Command said it has no forces stationed in the Central African nation other than at the U.S. Embassy.

Unlike Niger and two other West African countries run by military juntas, Gabon hasn’t been wracked by jihadi violence and had been seen as relatively stable.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the events in Gabon were being followed with “great concern.” He said it was too early to call it part of a trend or a “domino effect” in military takeovers on the continent.

Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu, however, cited a “contagion of autocracy we are seeing spread across our continent,” in a statement issued by his office. It said he was conferring with other heads of state and the African Union, whose commission condemned the coup and called for a return to “democratic constitutional order.”

The European Union’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, said Gabon would be discussed by the bloc’s ministers this week, adding that another military coup. if confirmed, would increase “instability in the whole region.”

A spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, Wang Wenbin, called on the parties to resolve the issue peacefully.



A clear conscience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone
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11512 Posts

Posted - 31 Aug 2023 :  16:17:26  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The Selfishness & Dishonesty of The African President
By Madi Jobarteh

So Ali Bongo shut down the internet soon after elections but when he was kicked out by his own cousin general and fellow soldiers he asked the world to make noise for him.

How can the people make noise without the internet? Knowing that very well, he shut the internet when he needed to silence fellow citizens. But then when the tables turned against him the same man came around asking people to use the internet to make noise for him. What a selfish and dishonest man!.

To further demonstrate his selfishness and dishonesty, in his call for noise, he cannot think of anyone but his wife and son. Ognorong the fact that throughout his misrule just like the dictatorship of his father, the Bongo family caused many wives, mothers, daughters and sons and fathers to shed blood and tears.

For example in 2019 when students went on massive protests, his government responded with deadly force that left many sons and daughters jailed and killed and thereby causing many wives and mothers crying. But Ali Bongo does not care about those fellow citizens. He is only interested in his own wife and son. What can be more selfish and dishonest than that?

In his video, Ali Bongo calls on his friends and people to make noise. What noise? For what? To who? He wants people to call on the international community and the international organizations and powerful individuals to come to his aid.

But Ali Bongo and his father have been notorious for jailing and torturing Gabonese citizens because they claim those citizens are foreign-backed agents. But here is Bongo calling on citizens and foreigners to make noise for him.

This is the dishonesty and selfishness one can see across African leaders. They can call on foreigners to come help them. But when their oppressed citizens get help from the same Western governments and human rights organizations they arrest and charge you for threatening national security or label you as an unpatriotic citizen.

We have seen it here when Yaya Jammeh shut down the internet just to attempt to silence citizens and steal the elections. But today he is using WhatsApp to speak to his supporters. He used to label journalists and CSOs as foreign-backed agents hellbent on destroying the country. But today he is enjoying the safety of a foreign government.

Adama Barrow took the baton from him to also harangue citizens as arsonists while labeling Gambian diasporans as troublemakers. When he used to depend on social media and in fact praised social media for the 2016 change, today he threatens social media and its users as enemies of the state! When Solo Sandeng led a protest without a police permit and Barrow and all the political leaders defended him, today his government maintains that same obnoxious law by forcing citizens to seek a police permit or risk arrest and imprisonment!!

Chei!! Only God knows from what kind of material He made African presidents!!!

In Senegal we saw the same selfish and dishonest behavior in Macky Sall who is also notorious for shutting down the internet. The same goes in Togo under the tyranny of Faure Gnassingbe, or Cameroun under despot Paul Biya or in Congo Brazzaville led by tinpot dictator Denis Sassou Nguesso. The list goes on!!!

Therefore it is obvious that the biggest selfish and dishonest ingrate in Africa is the African president. They have no values whatsoever! They are ready to suppress and destroy their people just to stay in power to continue to plunder their people and country!

Gabon is not still out the woods because General Nguema is a member of the Bongo family. He is an integral part of the oppressive regime and therefore he is not someone to bring about change. He is another tyrant who must be confronted and kicked out.

Gabon must be free. Africa must be free!!

A clear conscience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone
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11512 Posts

Posted - 31 Aug 2023 :  20:05:36  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Gabon Election results were a “smokescreen” for soldiers to oust unpopular president, analysts say


DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — The ouster of Gabon’s president by mutinous soldiers appears to have been well organized and capitalized on the population’s grievances against the government as an excuse to seize power, analysts said.

Soldiers on Wednesday ousted President Ali Bongo Ondimba, whose family has ruled the oil-rich country in Central Africa for more than five decades. The coup leaders accused Bongo of irresponsible governance that risked leading the country into chaos and said they put him under house arrest and detained several Cabinet members.

Meanwhile, the African Union Peace and Security Council met Thursday and announced the immediate suspension of Gabon from “all activities of the AU, its organs and institutions” until the country restores constitutional order.

The head of Gabon’s elite republican guard, Gen. Brice Clotaire Oligui Nguema, was announced on state TV as the nation’s new leader hours after Bongo was declared the winner of a weekend presidential election that observers said was marred with irregularities and a lack of transparency.

While there were legitimate grievances about the vote and Bongo’s rule, his ousting is just a pretext for the junta to claim power for themselves, Gabon experts say.

“The timing of the coup, following the announcement of the implausible electoral results, and the speed with which the junta is moving suggests this was planned in advance,” Joseph Siegle, director of research at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, said. “While there are many legitimate grievances about the vote and Bongo’s rule, that has little to do with the coup attempt in Gabon. Raising those grievances is just a smokescreen.”

In an announcement on state TV Thursday a spokesman for the junta said Oligui would be sworn into office on Monday September 4 before the constitutional court. It encouraged people to go back work and said it would restore domestic flights.

Also on Thursday, Gabon’s political opposition called for elections to resume “under the supervision” of the armed forces,” to allow the main opposition candidate, Albert Ondo Ossa, to assume the presidency, said his campaign manager Mike Jocktane.

Gabon’s coup is the eighth military takeover in Central and West Africa in three years and comes roughly a month after Niger’s democratically elected president was ousted. Unlike Niger and neighboring Burkina Faso and Mali, which have each had two coups apiece since 2020 and are being overrun by extremist violence, Gabon was seen as relatively stable.

However, Bongo’s family has been accused of endemic corruption and not letting the country’s oil wealth trickle down to the population of some 2 million people.

Bongo, 64, has served two terms since coming to power in 2009 after the death of his father, who ruled the country for 41 years, and there has been widespread discontent with his reign. Another group of mutinous soldiers attempted a coup in 2019 but was quickly overpowered.

The former French colony is a member of OPEC, but its oil wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few — and nearly 40% of Gabonese aged 15 to 24 were out of work in 2020, according to the World Bank. Its oil export revenue was $6 billion in 2022, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Gabon’s coup and the overturning of a dynastic leader, such as Bongo, appeared to have struck a nerve across the continent that coups in more remote, volatile West Africa previously hadn’t.

Hours after soldiers in Gabon announced the new leader, the president of neighboring Cameroon, Paul Biya, who’s been in power for 40 years, shuffled his military leadership, and Rwandan President Paul Kagame “accepted the resignation” of a dozen generals and more than 80 other senior military officers. Even Djibouti’s Ismail Omar Guelleh, in power in the tiny former French colony in the Horn of Africa since 1999, condemned the coup in Gabon and denounced the recent trend of military takeovers.

Still, on Wednesday, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said it was too early to call the attempted coup in Gabon a trend.

“It’s just too soon to do a table slap here and say, ‘yep, we’ve got a trend here going’ or ‘yep, we’ve got a domino effect,’” he said.

In a statement, the Commission of the Economic Community of Central African States, a Central African regional bloc, said it “firmly condemns” the use of force for resolving political conflicts and gaining access to power. It called for a return to constitutional order.

Since Bongo was toppled, the streets of Gabon’s capital, Libreville, have been jubilant with people celebrating alongside the army.

“Today we can only be happy,” said John Nze, a resident. “The country’s past situation handicapped everyone. There were no jobs. If the Gabonese are happy, it’s because they were hurting under the Bongos”.

A clear conscience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone
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