Coup d’etat in Gabon: General Oligui promises “free elections” after the transition

Five days after overthrown Ali Bongothe Gabonese general Brice Oligui Nguema was sworn in on Monday as president of a “transition” for which he did not set the duration. He promised to install “more democratic institutions” before “free elections”.

Putschist soldiers had announced on August 30 the “end of the regime” of Ali Bongo Ondimba, who had ruled Gabon for 14 years, less than an hour after the proclamation of his re-election, believing that it had been rigged. The next day, they proclaimed General Oligui, 48, president of a Committee for the Transition and the Restoration of Institutions (CTRI).

Towards “free elections”

“I swear before God and the Gabonese people to faithfully preserve the republican regime”, “to preserve the achievements of democracy”, declared before the judges of the Constitutional Court the brigadier general in the red ceremonial costume of the Republican Guard (GR). The general also promised this Monday “free” and “transparent” elections at the end of the transition period and undertook to grant amnesty to “prisoners of conscience”.

“I am instructing the future government” which will be appointed “to reflect on the mechanisms aimed at amnesting prisoners of conscience” and “facilitating the return of all exiles”, he declared in his inaugural speech.

The Bongo family had ruled this small Central African state, one of the richest on the continent thanks to its oil, for more than 55 years. Its wealth, however, was monopolized by an elite accused of “mive” “corruption” and “poor governance”.

Since taking power, General Oligui has chained, at a frantic pace, hours of highly publicized discussions with all of the “living forces of the Nation”: the clergy, business leaders, trade unions, society civil society, NGOs, diplomats, journalists… He conscientiously took notes and answered questions and complaints at length.

Fight against corruption, redistribution of wealth…

The new strongman of Libreville insists that he has made the fight against corruption and bad governance his main battle horse with the “recovery of the economy” and the redistribution of the country’s income and wealth to the people.

The African Union, the European Union, the UN and many Western capitals have condemned the coup. The institutions however insisted on a “difference” with the putschs in other countries of the continent because it was preceded, according to them, by a manifestly fraudulent election. “An institutional coup”, even underlined the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell. For his part, General Oligui said he was “surprised” by this condemnation by “international institutions”.

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