Gabon Coup Leader Sworn in as President, Vows Free and Fair Elections


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General Brice Oligui Nguema, the military leader of the coup that ousted Gabon’s president last week, was sworn in Monday as the country’s new transitional president.

Gen. Nguema, who was the head of the elite Republican Guard, replaced Ali Bongo, whose family has held the presidency for 55 years. After 41 years in power, Ali Bongo’s father, Omar, died in 2009 and was replaced by his son.

Nguema delivered a televised address following the swearing-in ceremony where he promised to return power to civilians after free, transparent elections; however, he did not specify the exact election period.

Gen. Brice Nguema, who spent most of his career in Bongo’s inner circle and is even thought to be Ali Bongo’s cousin, led last Wednesday’s coup, toppling the president shortly after he was named the winner of a disputed election.

The coup seems to have support from people who took to the streets in Gabon to celebrate the ouster of the Bongo family.

Western leaders see the situation differently, but Josep Borrell, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, said, “Naturally, military coups are not the solution, but we must not forget that in Gabon there had been elections full of irregularities.”

The opposition believes it is the rightful heir to the election and has called on the international community for support in that effort.

There have been nine coups in the past three years in former French colonies – Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger, Tunisia and now Gabon

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