By Kanishka Singh
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States has concluded that a military coup has taken place in Gabon, the U.S. State Department said on Monday, adding it was suspending most U.S. assistance to the African country’s government.
Gabon army officers seized power on Aug. 30, annulling an election minutes after an announcement that President Ali Bongo had won, which they said was not credible. Bongo, in power since 2009, had succeeded his father Omar Bongo, who ruled for 42 years.
The United States said in late September it was pausing some foreign assistance programs benefiting the government of Gabon. On Monday, the State Department said it was suspending most U.S. assistance to the government. However, it added that humanitarian, health, and education assistance will continue.
“The United States has concluded that a military coup d’état has taken place in Gabon,” a U.S. State Department spokesperson said.
“Pursuant to section 7008 of the Department of State’s annual appropriations act, the United States is suspending most U.S. assistance to the Government of Gabon.”
The junta in Gabon had promised to oversee free and fair elections, but has not given a precise timetable for organising them.
A 24-month transition to elections in Gabon would be “reasonable” after the coup, junta-appointed Prime Minister Raymond Ndong Sima was quoted as saying by French news agency AFP in September.
The Bongo family’s dynastic rule in the Central African oil producer had created widespread discontent, with critics saying the Bongos did little to share Gabon’s wealth with its 2.3 million people.
The African Union suspended Gabon’s membership following the coup.
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)