Coup leaders in Gabon appoint General Brice Olegy Nguema as the new leader

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His forces carried General Nguema victorious through the streets of the capital, Libreville

The military officers who seized power in a coup in Gabon on Wednesday appointed General Brice Olegie Nguema as the West African country’s transitional leader.

Earlier, his forces carried General Nguema triumphantly through the streets of the capital, Libreville.

Deposed President Ali Bongo appeared in a video from his home, calling on his “friends around the world” to “make noise” on his behalf.

This former French colony is one of the major oil producing countries in Africa.

The ouster of Mr. Bongo ended his family’s 55-year hold on power.

Army officers appeared on television in the early hours of Wednesday to say they had seized power.

They said they had annulled the results of Saturday’s election, which Bongo was declared the winner but the opposition said were rigged.

The officers also said they had arrested one of Mr Bongo’s sons for treason.

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Witness: Ali Bongo, sitting in what he calls his residence, calls on his supporters to “make noise”

Within hours, the generals met to discuss who would lead the transition, and unanimously agreed to appoint General Nguema, the former head of the presidential guard.

Crowds in Libreville and elsewhere celebrated the army’s announcement.

But the coup was condemned by the United Nations, the African Union and France, which had close ties to the Bongo family.

There has long been deep resentment toward the Bongo family – who ruled Gabon for 55 years – and general discontent over broader issues such as the cost of living.

A resident of Libreville, who asked not to be identified, told the BBC: “At first I was afraid, but then I felt joy.” “I was afraid because I realized that I was going through a coup experience, but the joy lies in the fact that we have waited so long for this regime to be overthrown.”

The Gabonese Coup: The Basics

Where is Gabon located? It is a country rich in oil and minerals located on the west coast of Central Africa, with a population of just 2.4 million people.

Who is Ali Bongo? He declared victory in the disputed election on Saturday and has headed the country since 2009. Prior to that, his father had been in power for 41 years.

Why was there a coup? The army does not accept the election results and says it seized power to keep the peace.

General Nguema, 48, was absent from the first three statements read by senior army officers on national television announcing the coup.

But he was appointed interim leader soon after, and was carried through the streets to jubilant scenes.

image source, Getty Images

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People were celebrating in the streets

He was an aide to the father of the deposed leader, Omar Bongo, who ruled the country for nearly 42 years until his death in 2009.

A former close colleague told the AFP news agency that General Nguema was very close to Omar Bongo, serving him from 2005 until his death in a Spanish hospital.

Under Ali Bongo, he initially worked as a military attaché in the Gabonese embassies in Morocco and Senegal.

But in 2018, he was appointed head of intelligence for the elite Republican Guard – Gabon’s most powerful military unit – replacing Frederic Bongo, Ali Bongo’s half-brother, before being promoted to general.

As in the previous general elections in Gabon, there were serious concerns about the voting process that took place on Saturday.

Main opposition candidate Albert Ondo Ossa complained that many polling stations lacked ballot papers bearing his name, while his coalition said the names of some who dropped out of the presidential race were still on the ballot paper.

Opponents have questioned Mr. Bongo’s two previous wins as fraudulent. This time, controversial changes were made to voting papers just weeks before Election Day.

And in 2018, he suffered a stroke that kept him out of action for nearly a year and led to a call for him to step down.

The following year, a failed coup attempt sent the rebel soldiers to prison.

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