(Reuters) – Gabon’s military junta named General Brice Oligui Nguema as transition leader on Wednesday, following the apparent ouster of President Ali Bongo.
Here are five facts about him.
Nguema is from Gabon’s southeasternmost province of Haut-Ogooue, which borders the Republic of Congo. Bongo is also from the same part of the country.
He replaced Bongo’s step-brother as head of Gabon’s Republican Guard in October 2019. The elite force is in charge of protecting the president, his family and other high-profile figures.
Shortly after he took on the new role in 2019, Nguema launched an operation named “clean hands” to crack down on alleged state-led embezzlement.
PROPERTY IN THE U.S.
Nguema was named in a 2020 investigation by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), a global network of investigative journalists, which alleged that some members of the Bongo family and their inner circle purchased expensive property in the United States with stashes of cash. The Bongo family has ruled oil-rich Gabon for over half a century. None of the accused replied to requests for comment.
EXPLANATION FOR THE COUP
While Nguema himself has not read out any statements, he was among the officers who first announced the coup. The group, which calls itself the Committee of Transition and the Restoration of Institutions, said the Aug. 26 election was not credible and that Gabon faced a “severe institutional, political, economic, and social crisis.”
In an interview with French newspaper Le Monde on Wednesday, Nguema said people in Gabon were frustrated with their government. He noted Bongo’s ill health following a stroke in 2018 and said the president’s run for a third term breached the constitution.
“Everyone talks about this but no one takes responsibility,” he said. “So the army decided to turn the page.”
(Reporting by Gerauds Wilfried Obangome in Libreville; Additional reporting by Ingrid Melander in Paris and Anait Miridzhanian in Johannesburg; Writing by Sofia Christensen; Editing by Matthew Lewis)