Gabon's coup leader vows ‘more democracy’

General Brice Oligui Nguema invited foreign donors, diplomats and members of international organisations to meet him

Soldiers carrying Gen Brice Oligui Nguema aloft in Gabon's capital Libreville, after the coup on Wednesday. AP
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Gabon's new strongman, General Brice Oligui Nguema, pledged on Friday that the country's institutions would be more democratic, two days after heading a coup that ended 55 years of rule by the Bongo family.

“The dissolution of the institutions” decreed on Wednesday during the coup “is temporary”, he said in a speech. “It is a question of reorganising them in order to make them more democratic.”

Gen Oligui also stepped up contact with national groups and foreign interests, meeting members of civil society a day after a speech to 200 businessmen, who he lectured on corruption.

In a broadcast on state television earlier on Friday, he sternly warned business leaders in the oil-rich state against “overbilling” and told them to commit to the “development of the country”.

“It is difficult to perceive, at this stage, your commitment or patriotism when it comes to the development expected by our compatriots,” he said.

He vowed to make sure the overcharged money “comes back to the state”.

“This situation, for me, cannot continue, and I will not tolerate it,” he added.

A torn campaign poster in Libreville for ousted Gabon President Ali Bongo. AFP

He also invited foreign donors, diplomats and members of international organisations to meet him. Details of that meeting remained unclear.

Embassies of countries or organisations that have condemned the coup told AFP they did not send their most senior representatives, but instead lower-ranked officials.

Gen Oligui, the head of the elite Republican Guard, on Wednesday led officers in a coup against President Ali Bongo Ondimba, scion of a family that had ruled for 55 years.

The move came shortly after Mr Bongo, 64, was proclaimed victor in presidential elections held at the weekend – a result branded a fraud by the opposition.

What is happening in Gabon?

What is happening in Gabon?

The coup leaders said they had dissolved the nation's institutions, cancelled the election results and closed the borders.

Gen Oligui is due to be sworn in as “transitional president” on Monday.

But other countries have not acknowledged him as Gabon's legitimate leader and he faces pressure to spell out his plans for restoring civilian rule.

Meanwhile, France's Armed Forces Minister Sebastien Lecornu told Le Figaro newspaper that Paris had suspended military co-operation with the new regime.

France has around 400 soldiers in Gabon, training the country's army.

Five other countries in Africa – Mali, Guinea, Sudan, Burkina Faso and Niger – have undergone coups in the last three years.

Updated: September 02, 2023, 7:24 AM