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What Does the Military Intervention Mean for Gabon’s Political Future?

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In a sudden turn of events, Gabon, a Central African nation, has witnessed a military intervention that threatens its political stability. A group of Gabonese officers and soldiers took to the national television on Wednesday, announcing their intent to terminate the current regime and nullify the outcomes of the recent elections.

Recent Political Developments in West Africa

This development in Gabon follows a pattern of political disruptions in West Africa. Notably, Niger experienced a similar coup just last month. Such incidents raise questions about the stability and democratic processes in the region.

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Election Outcomes Awaited

On 26 August, Gabonese citizens cast their votes in the presidential, legislative, and local elections. The nation was in anticipation of the results when the military officers intervened. President Ali Bongo Ondimba, who has held his position since 2009, was among the 19 candidates vying for the presidency.

Statement from the Gabon Military

A translated statement from the Gabon 24 television channel, read out by one of the officers, provides insight into the motivations behind the intervention:

“Our beautiful country, Gabon, has always been a haven of peace. Today, the country is going through a serious institutional, political, economic, and social crisis. We are therefore forced to admit that the organisation of the general elections of 26 August 2023 did not meet the conditions for a transparent, credible, and inclusive ballot so much hoped for by the people of Gabon. Added to this is irresponsible and unpredictable governance, resulting in a continuing deterioration in social cohesion, with the risk of leading the country into chaos. Today, 30 August 2023, we — the defence and security forces, gathered as the Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions (CTRI) on behalf of the people of Gabon and as guarantors of the institutions’ protection — have decided to defend peace by putting an end to the current regime. To this end, the general elections of 26 August 2023 and the truncated results are cancelled. The borders are closed until further notice. All the institutions of the Republic are dissolved: the government, the Senate, the National Assembly, the Constitutional Court, the Economic, Social and Environmental Council and the Gabonese Elections Centre. We call for calm and serenity from the public, the communities of sister countries settled in Gabon, and the Gabonese diaspora. We reaffirm our commitment to respecting Gabon’s commitments to the national and international community. People of Gabon, we are finally on the road to happiness. May God and the spirits of our ancestors bless Gabon. Honour and loyalty to our homeland. Thank you.”

Implications and the Road Ahead

The dissolution of major institutions and the closure of borders indicate a significant shift in Gabon’s political landscape. As the nation grapples with these changes, the international community will be closely monitoring the situation, especially given Gabon’s strategic importance in Central Africa. The call for calm from the military suggests a desire for a peaceful transition, but the long-term implications for Gabon’s democratic processes remain uncertain.

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