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African Union suspends Gabon; UN Secretary General, EU condemn coup

Gen. Oligui Nguema, named Transitional President by coupists

Jubilant Gabonese
By Cecilia Ologunagba, New York/Agency report from Cape Town, Aug. 31, 2023 

The African Union (AU) has suspended Gabon’s membership in the wake of the coup in the Central African country.

AU’s Peace and Security Council said on Thursday evening that it strongly condemned the take-over of power by the military in Gabon, which deposed President Ali Bongo.

This is as the United Nations (UN) Secretary General Antonio Guterres firmly condemned the coup as a means to resolve the post-electoral crisis in Gabon.

UN Spokesperson Stephanie Dujarric disclosed this at a news conference on Wednesday at UN headquarters in New York.

The AU’s Peace and Security Council suspended Gabon’s participation in all activities of the Union and its institutions “with immediate effect until constitutional order is restored in the country.”

The AU suspended Niger Republic’s membership just a few weeks ago after the military took power there at the end of July.

Burkina Faso, Mali, Guinea and Sudan have also been suspended since the coups in those countries.

In Brussels, top EU diplomat Josep Borrell said the European Union “rejects any seizure of power by force in Gabon.”

“The challenges facing Gabon must be resolved in accordance with the principles of the rule of law, constitutional order and democracy,” Borrell wrote on Thursday in a statement.

“The country’s peace and prosperity, as well as regional stability, depend on it,” the statement added.

He called for “inclusive and substantive dialogue” instead of force to respect the rule of law, human rights and the will of the Gabonese people.

The military had seized power in Gabon early on Wednesday.

Officers announced on state television that state institutions had been dissolved.

They added that results of the recent election had been annulled as they were fraudulent and the country’s borders were closed.

Shortly before, the electoral authorities had declared Bongo, who had been in office since 2009, the winner of the Aug. 26 election.

Military leaders named the head of the Presidential Guard, Brice Clotaire Oligui Nguema, as the country’s interim leader on Wednesday evening.

UN chief

According to the UN Spokesperson, “The secretary-general is following the evolving situation in Gabon very closely.

“He notes with deep concern the announcement of the election results amidst reports of serious infringements of fundamental freedoms,’’ Dujarric said.

The spokesperson said the secretary-general reaffirmed his strong opposition to military coups.

“The secretary-general calls on all actors involved to exercise restraint, engage in an inclusive and meaningful dialogue and ensure that the rule of law and human rights are fully respected.

“He also calls on the national army and security forces to guarantee the physical integrity of the President of the Republic and his family.,’’ he said.

According to him, the United Nations stands by the people of Gabon.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Cabon is a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.

Dujarric, while answering a question on solutions to spread of military take overs in African countries at the press briefing, said the best way to deal with military coup is to prevent it.

“The best way to deal with it is to invest more in preventing it from happening, by investing in strong institutions and ensuring that elections are safe.

“Also, that people can express themselves freely and that their human rights are respected. That is the best remedy.

“Afterwards, there is need to condemn military coup strongly,’’ he said

in addition, he said the UN has 81 international staff and 163 national staff working in the Gabon and  that latest information suggested that all staff and their families were safe and sound.

“Our broader concern is really for the people of Gabon, and people of countries that have undergone military coups recently which is a clear violation of their rights.

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