General Brice Oligui Nguema, the leader of Gabon’s military junta, has taken the oath of office as interim president and has vowed to return power to civilians after “free, transparent” elections.
In a speech during his swearing in ceremony, he did not give a date for military rule to end. Gen Nguema, head of the elite Republican Guard, led last Wednesday’s, August 30, 2023, coup against Ali Bongo, bringing an end to the 55 years presidency of the Bongo’s family.
The ousting came just moments after Bongo, 64, was proclaimed victor in last month’s presidential election, a result branded a fraud by the opposition.
“I swear before God and the Gabonese people to faithfully preserve the republican regime,” said Gen Nguema.
He referenced the likes of South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, French statesman Charles Fe Gaulle, and former Ghanaian leader Jerry Rawlings during his speech.
“This patriotic action will be a lesson learnt that will be taught in the books of our schools,” Gen Nguema explained.
He added that a fresh government would be formed “in a few days” and recommended new electoral legislation, a new penal code and a referendum on a new constitution.
Gen Nguema also said he had instructed the new government “to think without delay” about freeing all political prisoners. The opposition has said it welcomes the removal of Mr Bongo from power but has called for a speedy return to civilian rule.
The defeated presidential candidate Albert Ondo Ossa told the Associated Press that the coup was a “palace revolution”, engineered by the Bongo family to retain their power.
Gen Nguema is the latest in a series of military takeovers across West and Central Africa. Gabon is the sixth Francophone country to fall under military rule in the last three years as former colonial power France struggles to maintain its influence on the continent.
Gabon was suspended from the African Union following the coup, which has been condemned by the UN and France.
Source: BBC Africa