MOSCOW, August 30, Mikhail Katkov, Renat Abdullin. Almost The 60-year era of the Ondimba family in Gabon seems to be over. The military sent President Ali Bongo under house arrest, explaining this by falsifying the results of a single voting day. Why a coup d'état took place in one of the most stable countries of the Black Continent is in the material.
Karaul is tiredOn the morning of August 30, a group of high-ranking Gabon military officials announced on national television the cancellation of the results of the presidential and parliamentary elections, the dissolution of parliament, the CEC, the Constitutional Court and the government, and also temporary closure of borders.
Jean PingIt is not known whether the security forces operate independently or in alliance with the opposition. According to one version, for the transitional period, Gabon will be headed by former Foreign Minister Jean Pin, who participated in the 2016 elections, and the organizer of the coup, the chief of staff of the National Guard, General Brice Oligui Nguema, will become vice president. Together with Ali Bongo Ondimba, members of his family are under house arrest. One of the sons was detained and charged with high treason.
At the last moment before the elections scheduled for August 26, the legislation was amended, combining voting for the president and the party. According to the opposition, Ali Bongo did it on purpose – to deprive his competitors of the chance to win. However, the alternative candidate, economics professor Albert Ondo Ossa, scored 30.77%. Bongo has 64.27.
The opposition did not recognize the results, and the re-elected president imposed a curfew. In addition, he banned French TV channels because they talked about falsifications, and ordered to restrict access to the Internet. On Tuesday, Ossa urged Ondimba to voluntarily hand over power to him and prevent bloodshed. He is sure that the victory was stolen from him. The proof is the calculations of his observers.
Heir vs ScientistGabon is one of the largest oil exporters in Africa (produces about 180,000 barrels a day). The population is 2.3 million people, 40% live below the poverty line, youth unemployment is 37%. The Ondimba family has ruled Gabon continuously for 56 years. Ali Bongo's father, Omar Bongo, came to power in 1967. Passed away in 2009. By that time, Ali had already headed the ministries of foreign affairs and defense for several years.
Omar's reign was quite consistent with the caricature image of an African dictator: he combined the posts of president, prime minister, ministers of defense and communications, and was distinguished by love and cruelty. Corruption flourished. Locals believed that the head of state communicates with spirits. But he tried to be friends with France. True, in the 1990s, Paris nevertheless supported the opposition, forced the government to organize competitive elections and abandon the one-party system.
President of Gabon Ali Bongo Ondimba
Under Ali, relations with the former mother country worsened. In particular, in Paris, for nine years, an anti-corruption investigation was carried out regarding the property of his family. And Ali threatened to change the state language from French to English.
The son retained his father's authoritarian regime, but, unlike him, did not picture himself 99% in the elections. So, in 2009, his result was 41.7, in 2016 – 49.8. At the same time, seven years ago, the opposition candidate did not admit defeat, Libreville was engulfed in riots, and protesters burned down the parliament building.
Police during the riots in the capital of Gabon, Libreville appeared in public. Rumors spread about his death. It ended in a rebellion in January 2019. The putschists seized the state radio and announced the creation of the National Restoration Council. On the same day, four of the five organizers of the coup were arrested, and the last one escaped.
The current leader of the opposition has long been engaged in science and teaching, he is a well-known economist. He joined the first Republican Free Trade Union of Teachers and Researchers, which, among other things, in 1990 contributed to the return of a multi-party system. In 2006, Ossa became Minister of Education. In 2009, he took part in the elections, but won only 0.2% of the vote.
African springThe black continent has been rocked by coups d'etat for several years now. In 2020 – in Mali, in 2021 – in Chad, Guinea, Sudan, Niger. In 2022 – in Burkina Faso. The military recently seized power in Niger.
According to political scientist Boris Nadezhdin, the main reason for the dissatisfaction of the Gabonese opposition is the irremovability of power. “It is logical that many were tired of this, and the security forces, relying on the encouraging results of the elections, decided to come forward,” he explains. The situation is classic in Africa, where military coups are practically the standard. “This is an ordinary unstable state. Like many others on the continent,” the expert notes.
Car with soldiers in Libreville
Andrey Yashlavsky, an employee of the IMEMO RAS, “But the stability of dynastic rule had pitfalls that made themselves felt.”
In his opinion, the authorities did not falsify the elections, but the opposition went for broke. “All this would have ended in nothing if the military had not intervened, as is customary there. Whether the putschists will hold out is an open question. In 2019, the rebellion was quickly suppressed. It is possible that the situation will repeat itself. However, against the backdrop of other events, including , what is happening, of course, cannot but disturb both regional leaders and Western players,” the analyst points out.
Ali bin Bongo Ondimba
“Traditionally, the military leadership does not have a constructive program,” says Africanist, Doctor of Science Nikolai Shcherbakov. programs. For more than half a century, the political field has been cleared.”
In the absence of a clear agenda, the security forces can retain power, he believes. “Gabon has a relatively high standard of living. That is, any government has the resources and capabilities to implement its own plans,” the expert concludes.
Who will seize the initiative is still unclear. The opposition is divided, so no one interferes with the rebels.