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The head of the republican guard proclaimed new leader of Gabon

On Wednesday August 30th, guards in charge of protecting the President in Gabon staged an apparent coup and declared their country’s new leader to be General Brice Clotaire Oligui Nguema, the chief of the republican guards.

The coup leaders announced on Gabon’s state TV that Gen. Oligui had been unanimously chosen among them to lead a transitional committee to govern the country. Gen. Oligui is a relative of President Bongo. This occurred after they placed President Ali Bongo Ondimba, who had been declared the winner of Saturday’s election, under house arrest.

In a video message from his residence where he was detained, President Bongo urged people to show their support, but instead, crowds in the capital celebrated the coup against a dynasty accused of amassing wealth from the country’s resources while many of its citizens faced hardships.

The coup leaders extended the nighttime curfew that had been imposed since the August 26th elections, widely reported to have been poorly conducted and with little transparency and amid internet blackouts, and other accusations of manipulations. Gabonese citizens would now be restricted from moving freely between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., as opposed to the previous curfew, which ran from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Gen. Oligui, the new military leader, had previously served as the bodyguard of President Bongo’s father, the late President Omar Bongo, and later headed the secret service in 2019 before becoming the head of the republican guard.

Gabon, a former French colony and an OPEC member, has seen its oil wealth concentrated in the hands of a select few, with nearly 40% of Gabonese aged 15 to 24 being unemployed in 2020, according to the World Bank. In 2022, its oil export revenue amounted to $6 billion, as reported by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

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