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Gabon’s General Oligui Nguema Sworn In As Transitional Head Of State

Oligui Nguema


Gabon’s General Oligui Nguema Sworn In As Transitional Head Of State

In 2022, the country’s oil export revenue amounted to $6 billion, as reported by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Gabon’s new military leader on September 4th, took the oath as head of state, just days after removing the president who had held power in the Central African nation for over five decades.

General Brice Clotaire Oligui Nguema was sworn in at the presidential palace in Libreville, Gabon’s capital, before a lively audience consisting of government officials, military personnel, and local leaders. Oligui is a cousin of the ousted President Ali Bongo Ondimba, having previously served as his late father’s bodyguard and currently leading the republican guard, an elite military unit.

Amidst thunderous applause and standing ovations, Oligui declared that the military had seized power without violence and pledged to restore power to the people by organizing free, transparent, and credible elections. He stated, “With the new government, composed of experienced individuals, we will provide everyone with a chance for hope.”

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The mutinous soldiers who toppled Bongo the previous week argued that his leadership posed a risk of plunging the country into chaos, they “unanimously” appointed Oligui as the president of the transitional committee. Bongo, who had been president for 14 years, was removed shortly after being declared the winner of an election widely criticized for its irregularities and lack of transparency.

The swift inauguration of Oligui is expected to create an impression of legitimacy and solidify his authority, dissuading potential challengers. Maja Bovcon, a senior analyst at Verisk Maplecroft, a risk assessment firm, suggested that this move is also likely aimed at restoring investor confidence by conveying the message that Oligui is committed to returning to normalcy and democratic governance.

However, the fact that he plans to revise the constitution and electoral code implies that the transition period may extend for months if not years.

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Ali Bongo had served two terms since assuming power in 2009 after his father’s death, who had ruled Gabon for 41 years. There was widespread discontent with the family’s rule, and another group of mutinous soldiers attempted a coup in 2019 but were quickly subdued.

Meanwhile, in France, nine members of the Bongo family are under investigation, with some facing preliminary charges related to embezzlement, money laundering, and other forms of corruption, as reported by Sherpa, a French NGO dedicated to accountability.

Investigators have linked the family to over $92 million in French properties, including two villas in Nice.

The prospect of a lengthy transition did not seem to concern the Gabonese citizens who attended the inauguration.

Desire Ename, a publisher for a local media outlet, remarked, “We are turning the page on 55 years of oligarchy. For Gabon, it signifies a new beginning, the end of one-party governance that did not yield tangible benefits for the Gabonese people.”

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He indicated that a transition period of up to three years would be acceptable to the public.

Gabon’s opposition candidate, Albert Ondo Ossa, refrained from commenting on the inauguration but had previously emphasized the need to return to constitutional rule. He did not characterize the president’s ousting as a coup but rather as a “palace revolution” aimed at continuing the Bongo family’s rule.

Gabon, a former French colony and a member of OPEC, possesses significant oil wealth, but it is concentrated in the hands of a few.

In 2020, nearly 40% of Gabonese people aged 15 to 24 were unemployed, according to the World Bank. In 2022, the country’s oil export revenue amounted to $6 billion, as reported by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Buhari Olanrewaju Ahmed, a seasoned investigative journalist and climate/environmental reporter with a decade of experience, unravels complex issues and amplifies critical voices. His in-depth investigative work and insightful reporting have earned him recognition as a trusted source of information. Ahmed's unwavering commitment to journalism and exceptional storytelling prowess make him a standout figure in investigative journalism. His work drives meaningful conversations, influences policy decisions, and inspires collective efforts toward a sustainable future.

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