Gabon's coup leader boldly says he will not go into elections

General Brice Nguema
General Brice Nguema Source: Twitter

It was a palace revolution, not a coup d’etat. This is a family affair, where one brother replaces another.

It is always relieving to finally hear that an African country has been liberated from Western neo-colonialism but this seems quite different with the recent coup in Gabon. I already covered why the coup was staged to keep the Western powers in control of the country. Overthrowing President Ali Bongo is not going to end French control of the country.

General Brice Oligui Nguema said on Friday that the military junta is going to act in a certain way. This approach, they say, will enable them to avoid mistakes the country has made in the past. The mistake he is referring to is keeping the same people in power.

“Going as quickly as possible does not mean organising ad hoc elections, where we will end up with the same errors,” 

Nguema had promised the country democracy early enough to restore order. Acting as a transitional president, his duty is to ensure it is done early enough to avoid uncertainty and a possible civil war. However, General Nguema has refused to provide a timeline for fresh elections. He says that institutions in the country are going to be made more democratic. The suspension was only temporary.

This does not resonate with the opposition’s leader, Ondo Ossa. He says the coup was a palace revolution, not a coup d’etat’. In his interview with Al Jazeera, he says:

“I had imagined this coup d’etat, it was likely. I follow political activity in the country, I see how the institutions work, I see how the presidential guard works and I saw the rise of Brice Oligui Nguema and I knew something was up.”
“You think you’re saving your country, but then you realize you’re back to square one. It’s embarrassing,” 

Ossa has expressed his disappointment in the coup. It was accompanied by celebrations, especially in the capital, Libreville, followed by Port-Gentil, the central African country’s second-largest city. He states the reactions are due to the initial joy of citizens who thought that they finally had freedom from Bongo’s rule but still the family is in control.

“He’s a cousin of Bongo, so how can I think he’s different? It’s a palace revolution, we’re still in Bongo power … he grew up in the palace, this young man. I knew him as a relative of Bongo, as all Gabonese know.” 
“Basically, I think the Bongo family got rid of one of its members who was weighing on the family, and they wanted Bongo power to continue, while at the same time preventing Albert Ondo Ossa from coming to power. It was a palace revolution, not a coup d’etat. This is a family affair, where one brother replaces another.”

In addition to the events, the military has reopened its borders. The army spokesman says that the country reopened its borders on Saturday after they were closed following the coup.

“The land, sea and air borders were opened because the junta was concerned with preserving respect for the rule of law, good relations with our neighbors and all states of the world and wanted to keep its international commitments.”

The decision by Nguema ascertains the continuation of President Ali Bongo’s dynasty in Gabon. Elections being done again will ensure that democracy is upheld for the citizens. I hope that the coup in Gabon has the interests of the citizens at heart, although that is unlikely. It could be a fantasy.