HomeLatest NewsCoup in Gabon Overthrows Pro-French Dynasty

Coup in Gabon Overthrows Pro-French Dynasty

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The elite Republican Guard of Gabon announced Wednesday morning that they had ousted Ali Bongo Ondimba, just hours after he was elected to a third term in office. The coup leaders annulled Gabon’s most recent elections, suspended government activities, and closed borders. Former President Bongo, his family, and other officials are in custody. The de facto leader is General Brice Nguema of the Republican Guard – the elite unit tasked with protecting President Bongo.

Gabon is the fourth largest manganese producer in the world and an oil exporting country. It was a French Colony until 1960. Since 1967, it has been ruled solely by the Bongo Family (I swear I am not making this up). It is also a one-party state like California.

Early on Wednesday morning, a group of military officers claimed to have seized control in the oil-rich Central African country of Gabon, overturning disputed results from an election in which the incumbent President Ali Bongo Ondimba was reelected for a third time.

If the Gabon coup succeeds, it would be just the latest of many such events. Niger’s kleptocracy, which was elected by the people and ruled for a period of time, was ousted from power less than a month earlier (Coup In Niger Brings Imminent War Threat And Foreign Military Intervention).

Gabon is a French colony, even though it gained independence in 1960. French companies are dominant in oil and mineral extraction. A French battalion has been stationed at the capital, Libreville. Eramet, a French-owned company that owns a mining operation in Liberia, has ceased operations.

France appears to be taking a risk by allowing it to recognize the government installed in a coup.

Olivier Veran told reporters Wednesday morning that France condemns the coup. He said that the French government “reaffirms” its desire to have the results of the elections respected.

Some of it may be due to a concern for good governance and legalism, but others seem to be pure politics.

In recent years, Mr. Bongo has had a deteriorating relationship with France. He banned raw wood exports, which eliminated jobs in France. Last year, Gabon joined the British Commonwealth. Mr. Bongo hailed this pivot as “a new Chapter” for his nation.

The message I believe we are getting is that liberal (small “l”) democracy cannot survive on the poor soils of Africa. Instead, the most natural form of governance there is despotism. We should remember that before we embark on our next nation-building bacchanalia.

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