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Coup in Gabon: the opportunity for a real transition

The Gabonese military deposed Ali Bongo after the announcement of the rigged results of the presidential election. From now on, the Gabonese are waiting to know if their voice, which calls for alternation, will be heard.

This is both a scenario already seen in Africa in recent years and an event. Ali Bongo is no longer the president of Gabon. In the early morning, several soldiers, including green berets from the Republican Guard, made a televised speech in which they claimed to "put an end to the regime in place" after noting "irresponsible, unpredictable governance".

Soldiers who waited for the official proclamation of the results of the presidential election on Saturday August 26. The truncated victory of President Ali Bongo Ondimba did not pass this time, while in 2016 already, the opposition had deplored the massive fraud during the duel between Ali Bongo and Jean Ping.

The event is the timing: the soldiers show that, this time, it is not a simple story of internal dissension at the Palais du seaside in Libreville. It was after a rigged election that the army turned against Bongo. On the ground, the situation is still confused, but already calls have been made to the people to support the army.

A putsch? No, a “dignity operation”

Which made an opponent say on the spot: "More than a simple putsch, it is a 'dignity operation' to meet the demands of the people." And for the first time since the coups in Malin, Guinea, Burkina Faso and Niger, it is not an ECOWAS country that falls. Post-coup management will therefore potentially be simpler.

However, it all depends on what the military will do. The colonel who spoke has already affirmed that “the general elections of August 26, 2023 as well as the truncated results are cancelled”. The internet connection would have been restored. A good point for this country which has been in a total “blackout” since Saturday. In addition, “all the institutions of the Republic are dissolved, in particular the government, the Senate, the National Assembly, the Constitutional Court, the Economic, Social and Environmental Council, the Gabonese Election Center”.

Towards a national dialogue organized by A23?

What will happen now? On the spot, among the opponents, it is a mixture of hope and mistrust. “We must take the wishes and reasons for the putsch literally,” summarizes one of them, speaking on condition of anonymity. The objective must be the return to institutional order. But this coup is a validation of the cancellation of the sham elections. We must now prepare for political change.”

Because that is what it is about: putting an end to the hegemony of the Bongo clan, symbolized by the omnipotence of the now ex-First Lady, Sylvia Bongo. Voices in Gabon are already being heard for the organization of “transition meetings” which could be held around the Alternance 2023 platform which probably won the presidential election hands down.

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