Central African Republic president meets Gabon junta leader for talks

By Wilfried Obangome

LIBREVILLE (Reuters) – Central African Republic President Faustin Touadera held closed-door talks with Gabon’s junta-appointed leader in Libreville on Tuesday in the wake of the main regional bloc’s condemnation of the Aug. 30 coup.

Central African bloc ECCAS has suspended Gabon’s membership, but has so far stopped short of imposing sanctions in response to the non-violent military ouster of President Ali Bongo – West and Central Africa’s eighth coup in three years.

No statements were made to the press after Touadera’s private audience with the junta’s General Brice Oligui Nguema, who was sworn in as interim president on Monday to cheers from supporters welcoming the end of the Bongo family’s 56-year hold on power.

Touadera was visiting in Libreville, the capital, in the capacity of a mediator between the junta and ECCAS, a source in the Gabonese presidential palace said.

Nguema has promised to name a new government for the oil-producing nation in the coming days and oversee free and fair elections, although he has not said how long he envisages the transition to democracy will be.

In a possible sign some internal political forces are rallying around the new authorities, the leader of Gabon’s main opposition alliance, Albert Ondo Ossa, said he had spoken with Nguema on Tuesday.

“Today, at my home, I had the opportunity to have a private and collegial conversation with the President of the Transition,” he said in an online post, sharing a photo of him, Nguema, and others clasping hands for the camera.

“Let’s dare to believe in a better and brighter future for our beloved country, Gabon.”

Ondo Ossa’s opposition platform Alternance 2023 claims he was the rightful winner of a recent election. Military officers seized power shortly after Bongo was announced as its winner – a result they annulled and said was not credible.

Apart from one video appeal for international support, little has been heard from Bongo since he was placed under house arrest during the coup.

(Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Leslie Adler)