Gabon junta eyes election in August 2025

LIBREVILLE (Reuters) -The junta that seized power in Gabon said on Monday that it aimed to hold elections in August 2025, two years after the military coup that ousted President Ali Bongo.

Army officers seized power on Aug. 30 after Gabon’s election centre announced Bongo had won a third term as head of state in the Central African country.

It was the eighth coup in West and Central Africa since 2020. All have been widely condemned, and regional bodies have pressured the countries’ self-appointed military governments to hold elections within reasonable timeframes.

Gabon’s junta laid out what it called an indicative schedule for its transition to civilian rule on Monday with elections slated for August 2025. It said the schedule would need to be approved through a national dialogue involving government officials, civil society groups and others.

The junta also said a new constitution would be presented at the end of October 2024 and a referendum on its adoption would be held around November-December that year.

It said all those dates were subject to possible revision.

“We are committed to ensuring a transparent, inclusive and efficient process,” the junta said in a statement read on national television.

The Central African bloc ECCAS, which suspended Gabon’s membership in response to the coup, has not yet responded to the proposed timeline.

Military officers toppled the government after years of discontent towards Bongo. The deposed president took over in 2009 on the death of his father, Omar, who had ruled since 1967.

Opponents say the family did little to share Gabon’s oil and mining wealth with its 2 million people.

Similar takeovers in the West African nations of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger were spurred in part by frustrations over authorities’ failure to protect civilians against a spiralling jihadist insurgency that has spread across the Sahel and beyond over the past decade.

Juntas have since appeared to be clinging to power, dragging their feet on negotiations and proposing three- to five-year transition timelines that regional bodies deem too lengthy.

Mali, hit with sanctions after it failed to hold promised elections in February 2022, has agreed to polls in February next year.

The interim leader of Burkina Faso, which has settled on a 24-month transition, said in September that there would be no voting until the country was safe enough.

Chad’s transitional government pushed scheduled elections back to October 2024 last year. It had initially committed to an 18-month transition after a 2021 coup.

(Reporting by Anait Miridzhanian Writing by Sofia ChristensenEditing by Alexander Winning and Leslie Adler)