| 25 July 2024, Thursday |

Gabon reopens borders three days after military coup

Gabon reopened its borders on Saturday, according to an army spokesman, three days after they were closed during a military coup that deposed President Ali Bongo.

On Wednesday, military officers commanded by General Brice Oligui Nguema took control, placed Bongo under house arrest, and proclaimed Nguema as head of state, effectively ending the Bongo family’s 56-year reign.

The coup – the eighth in West and Central Africa in three years – has raised concerns about a contagion of military takovers across the region that have erased democratic progress made in the last two decades.

Coup leaders have come under international pressure to restore civilian government but said last night that they would not rush to hold elections.

The land, sea and air borders were opened because the junta was “concerned with preserving respect for the rule of law, good relations with our neighbors and all states of the world” and wanted to keep its “international commitments”, the army spokesman said on national television.

Bongo was elected in 2009, taking over from his late father Omar, who came to power in 1967. Opponents say the family did little to share Gabon’s oil and mining wealth.

The takeover in Gabon follows coups in Guinea, Chad and Niger, plus two each in Mali and Burkina Faso since 2020, worrying international powers with strategic interests at stake.

  • Reuters