Gabon’s new military ruler called for a referendum on a new constitution and an overhaul of the OPEC member state’s electoral code, as he pledged to restore civilian rule after an unspecified transition period.
(Bloomberg) — Gabon’s new military ruler called for a referendum on a new constitution and an overhaul of the OPEC member state’s electoral code, as he pledged to restore civilian rule after an unspecified transition period.
General Brice Oligui Nguema was sworn in as transitional president on Monday, less than a week after soldiers overthrew President Ali Bongo on Aug. 30.
“At the end of this transition, with the contribution of all Gabonese, we intend to return power to civilians by organizing transparent and credible elections,” Nguema said in a speech at the swearing-in ceremony that was broadcast by state television.
The putsch in the former French colony is the ninth in sub-Saharan Africa in the past three years, and follows a coup in Niger a month earlier. Soldiers placed Bongo under house arrest and annulled an election in which he secured a third term, drawing condemnation from the US, Nigeria, France and the African Union.
The junta plans to establish a government in the coming days that will include civilians with the goal of giving “everyone a reason to hope for a better life,” Nguema said.
Bongo’s ouster led to a selloff of Gabon’s dollar bonds last week, though they’ve since bounced back. Debt due in 2031 gained for a second day on Monday, advancing 0.58 cents to 75.18 cents on the dollar.
Bongo was removed from power hours after being declared the winner of an election whose outcome the opposition disputed. He was first elected president in 2009, four months after the death of his father, Omar Bongo, who had held power since 1967. He secured a second seven-year term in 2016 in the closest election in the nation’s history.
The decision to remove Bongo was motivated by his ill health and the flawed Aug. 26 vote, Nguema told Le Monde last week. Nguema is Bongo’s cousin and head of the Republican Guard, the country’s most elite security unit.
Nguema, who hails from the same southern province as Bongo, trained at the Meknes Royal Military Academy in Morocco. He served as a senior aide to Bongo’s father until his death in 2009, when he was appointed deputy corps commander of the parachute group for five years.
He then served as a military attaché to Gabon’s embassy in Senegal for five years before returning to become the Republican Guard’s intelligence chief in 2019. He was later appointed head of the entire unit, whose job includes protecting the president.
Nguema spent $1 million on three properties in the US, according to a 2020 investigation by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project into the Bongo family’s real estate empire. When asked about it Nguema told reporters that it’s a private matter.
–With assistance from Moses Mozart Dzawu and Katarina Hoije.
(Updates with comment by Nguema in fifth paragraph, latest bond prices in sixth paragraph)
More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.