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Gabon coup leaders reopen borders

Officers from the Gabonese Armed Forces said on Saturday that they had reopened the country’s land, sea, and air borders, three days after ousting former President Ali Bongo from power.

Bongo was overthrown on Wednesday and placed under house arrest by the officers, ending almost six decades of rule by the Bongo family. As soldiers locked down the capital city of Libreville, the chief of the Republican Guard, General Brice Oligui Nguema, was named interim head of state later that day.

In an address on Saturday afternoon, an army spokesman said that the new government intends to resume normal relations with the rest of the world. He said that Gabon’s land, sea, and air borders would be reopened “with immediate effect,” because the military was “concerned with preserving respect for the rule of law [and] good relations with our neighbors and all states of the world.”

Gabon, the spokesman said, wants to maintain its “international commitments.”

The coup has been strongly condemned by the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), while Nigerian President Bola Tinubu – who heads the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) – warned on Thursday that “copycats will start doing the same thing until it is stopped.”

Bongo’s ouster is the latest in a wave of successful revolutions across West and Central Africa.

Bands of military leaders seized power in Niger in July, in Burkina Faso in 2022, and in Chad, Guinea, and Mali in 2021. All of these countries are former French colonies, and public discontent with France’s decade-long anti-terrorist operation in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, and Niger translated into widespread support for these coups.

Bongo’s recent re-election gave the Gabonese military impetus to seize power.

  • Army chiefs called his victory – supposedly with 64% of the vote – fraudulent, and declared that his 14 years in office had resulted in a “deterioration in social cohesion that risks leading the country into chaos.”

Western observers have long considered Bongo corrupt, with Washington’s Freedom House NGO expressing zero confidence that the ousted president was “elected through free and fair elections.”

A 2010 US diplomatic cable published by Wikileaks alleged that Bongo had embezzled millions of dollars from the Bank of Central African States.

Source: RT