General Brice Oligui Nguema is the new Leader of Gabon After a Coup

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General Brice Oligui Nguema

General Brice Oligui Nguema has been appointed as Gabon’s interim leader after army officers staged a coup on Wednesday and seized authority in the West African nation of Gabon.

Earlier, General Nguema was given a hero’s welcome by his troops as they paraded triumphantly through the roads of the capital city of Libreville.

Ali Bongo, the former President of Gabon, made a video appearance at his residence in which he asked his supporters located in different parts of the globe to “make loud” on his behalf.

The country, which was formerly a French colony, is now one of the most important oil producers in Africa.

The ousting of Mr. Bongo brought an end to his family’s 55-year reign as rulers of the country.

Army officers made their way onto television early on Wednesday morning to announce that they had taken control of the government.

They stated that they had overturned the results of the election that took place on Saturday, in which Mr. Bongo had been declared as the winner despite the opposition claiming that the election was rigged.

Additionally, the officers reported that they had detained one of Mr. Bongo’s sons on suspicion of treason.

Within a matter of hours, the generals gathered to decide who would oversee the transition, and they reached a consensus to pick General Nguema, who had previously served as the commander of presidential security.

Celebrations were held all around the country, including in the capital city of Libreville.

However, the United Nations, the African Union, and France, which maintained close relations with the Bongo family, all voiced their opposition to the coup.

The United States Department of State called on Gabon’s army to “maintain civilian rule” and demanded that “those accountable” release government officials and secure their safety. The United Kingdom voiced its disapproval of what it called an “unconstitutional military seizure” of power.

There has been a long-simmering sense of anger toward the Bongo family, who ruled Gabon for the majority of its existence (55 years), and there has also been popular unhappiness about more general problems such as the expense of living.

According to a citizen of Libreville who spoke to the BBC under the condition of anonymity, “At first I was feeling scared, but later I felt joy.” The realization that I am currently residing through a coup caused me to feel fearful, but the fact that we have been waiting for such a long time for this government to be overturned caused me to feel happy.

Gen. Nguema, who is 48 years old, was not present when the first 3 speeches announcing the coup were read out on national television by top army leaders.

But shortly after that, he was given the position of interim leader, and there were scenes of jubilation as he walked through the streets.

His dad, Omar Bongo, who controlled the country for a little over 42 years before his death in 2009, appointed him as an aide-de-camp.

The news agency AFP was informed by a former loyal colleague that Gen. Nguema had been particularly attached to Omar Bongo and that he had served him beginning in 2005 until the time of his death in a hospital in Spain.

During Ali Bongo’s rule, he began his career in the Gabonese government serving as a military attache in the country’s missions in Senegal and Morocco.

However, in 2018, he was given the position of intelligence director under the highly regarded Republican Guard, which is Gabon’s strongest army unit. In this role, he succeeded Ali Bongo’s half-bro Frederic Bongo, and this was followed by a promotion to the rank of general.

The method of voting on Saturday in Gabon’s presidential election raised significant concerns, as it had in the country’s previous general elections.

Albert Ondo Ossa, the primary opposition candidate, expressed his dissatisfaction with the fact that many voting locations did not have ballot papers that bore his name. At the same time, the coalition that he led stated that the identities of some of the individuals who had withdrawn from the contest for the presidency were nevertheless on the voting sheet.

Opponents of Mr. Bongo have alleged that both of his prior victories were obtained through unethical means. This time, contentious alterations were implemented to voting papers in the weeks leading up to Election Day.

In 2018, he had a stroke, which rendered him unable to work for about a year as well as led to requests from him to stand down from his position.

The following year witnessed another failed attempt at a coup, which resulted in the imprisonment of mutinous soldiers.

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