May 24, 2024

The military takeover in Gabon will merely lead to a continuation of rule by the Bongo clan which has been in power for 55 years, a source close to the deposed president has told the BBC.

“General Brice Oligui Nguema is a direct product of the Bongo clan,” said the source, who wanted to remain anonymous for security reasons.

He warned those celebrating the coup not to expect too much to change.

The military vowed to put an end to the Bongo regime when they seized power.

They announced a military takeover shortly after President Ali Bongo had been declared the winner of a disputed election. He has been put under house arrest.

The military on Saturday said the country’s borders would be reopened after they were closed following Wednesday’s coup.

Our source’s comments echo those of opposition leader Albert Ondo Ossa, who told the Associated Press that the coup was a “palace revolution”, engineered by the Bongo family to retain their power.

The coalition backing Mr Ossa, Alternance 2023, which says it is the rightful winner of last Saturday’s election, has urged the international community to push for a return to civilian rule.

“We were happy that Ali Bongo was overthrown but… we hope that the international community will stand up in favour of the republic and the democratic order in Gabon by asking the military to give back the power to the civilians,” Mr Ossa’s spokesperson, Alexandra Pangha, told the BBC.

She added that the plan for Gen Nguema to be sworn in as transitional president on Monday was “absurd”.

The coup has been condemned by the UN, its neighbours and France – its former colonial power which had close ties to the Bongo family.

Gabon has been suspended from the African Union.

In a televised address on Friday evening, Gen Nguema said the military would move “quickly but surely” to restore civilian rule but did not give a timeline. He said they would avoid elections that “repeat the same mistakes” by keeping the same people in power.

However, our source said that the new strongman, the head of the elite Republican Guard, was “a direct product of the Bongo clan. He is the spiritual son of Omar Bongo and has always been closely tied to the presidential family”, adding that some believe he is Ali Bongo’s cousin.

Omar Bongo was in power for 41 years before his son Ali succeeded him following his death in 2009.

Ali Bongo’s subsequent election victories have always been marred by opposition claims of widespread fraud.

 

Source: BBC

 

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