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GABON – Coup attempt: President Ali Bongo under house arrest

The president of Gabon since 2009, Ali Bongo, was placed under house arrest, announced on August 30, 2023 putschists, on television. One of the sons of the outgoing head of state, Noureddin Bongo Valentin, was also arrested, they added. Earlier this Wednesday, a group of soldiers declared on Gabon 24 channel the cancellation of the results of the general elections that gave the re-election of Ali Bongo with 64.27% of the votes cast.

President Ali Bongo “is under house arrest. He is surrounded by his family and doctors.” This is what military putschists said on August 30, 2023, according to a statement read on state television by members of the self-proclaimed Committee for Transition and Restoration of Institutions (CTRI).

They say that several arrests have also taken place in the entourage of Ali Bongo, including that of his son Noureddin Valentin. The military announced an open investigation against these people for, among other things, «high treason against state institutions», «massive embezzlement of public funds», «active corruption» or «narcotics trafficking».

In addition to these statements, another sequence is regularly broadcast on the news channel Gabon 24: that of scenes of jubilation of soldiers of the republican guard, responsible for ensuring the security of the presidency, who carry in triumph their leader, General Brice Oligui Nguema. On the other hand, the communiqués of the putschists being for the moment signed only on behalf of the CTRI, impossible to know if it is indeed this officer who is behind this attempted coup d’état.

Gabon is plunged into uncertainty on August 30, 2023. The president of the Gabonese Center for Elections (CGE) announced on television the victory of President Ali Bongo with 64.27% of the vote. Then, a few minutes later, a group of soldiers appeared on Gabon 24 – whose studios are in the presidency – to announce the end of the regime in place, the cancellation of the elections and the dissolution of the institutions of the Republic. These men say they are part of the security forces. They say they are gathered in the CTRI.

According to their statement, the organization of the elections did not meet “the conditions for a transparent, credible and inclusive election”. The putschists even speak of “truncated results”. They call for calm and serenity. Other measures announced: the dissolution of institutions, the closing of borders.

Dissolution of institutions and closure of borders announced
A trade unionist of Cameroonian carriers joined by Amélie Tulet says that the border is hermetically closed since this morning at the border post of Kyé-Ossi in the south of Cameroon. Transactions continue at the informal level, at the level of the tracks, because in this forest area on the borders of Cameroon/ Gabon/ Equatorial Guinea, the border is porous. But at the official border post of Kyé-Ossi, no truck passes, according to Hillaire Dzipan, special advisor of the National Union of Road Carriers of Cameroon.

At the end of the morning, in Libreville, the situation is rather calm. Military vehicles circulate in the streets. As they pass, there are signs of joy, while the soldiers greet with their hands. But nothing allows to say in their attitude if they are close to the putschists. The internet is being restored, network cut since August 26 at the end of the day, days of the general elections in the country.

On the side of the main opposition coalition, Alternance 2023, which still claims the victory of its candidate Albert Ondo Ossa in Saturday’s presidential election, we observe. According to an official, the meetings scheduled this Wednesday morning have been cancelled, and the various leaders are safe.

China calls for «guaranteeing Ali Bongo’s personal security»
In the hours that followed the reading of the communiqué by the putschists, international reactions multiplied. China, a major partner of Gabon, called on «the parties concerned» in Gabon to «guarantee the security» of Ali Bongo». Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson for Chinese diplomacy, said: “China closely monitors the situation in Gabon and calls on the parties concerned to act in the interest of the Gabonese people…, to immediately return to normal order, and to guarantee the personal security of Ali Bongo.”

As for France, it also reacted through the voice of its Prime Minister. Elisabeth Borne explained that France follows «with the greatest attention» the situation. Shortly after, the government spokesman, Olivier Véran, said that «France condemns the military coup that is underway in Gabon». French diplomacy «reaffirms its wish that the result of the election, when known, can be respected», added Olivier Véran, during a press conference at the end of the Council of Ministers.

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CENTRAL AFRICA

DR CONGO – Elections: Candidate Moïse Katumbi’s Party Leader Dies on Eastern Trip

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An official of the party of the opponent Moïse Katumbi was killed and several others wounded Tuesday, November 28, 2023 in Kindu, in eastern DRC, where the opponent arrived as part of his campaign for the presidential election of December 20. This is the first major incident since the beginning of this election campaign, which is taking place in a tense political climate.

The climate was already tense long before the landing of Moïse Katumbi’s plane, the authorities having forbidden the opponent to hold his meeting at the Central Tribune of the main artery of the city of Kindu.

Upon arrival, Moïse Katumbi and his allies, including former Prime Minister Matata Ponyo and Seth Kikuni were cheered and followed by the crowd in the streets before the rally relocated elsewhere. It was at the approach of the governor’s residence that the opponent and his supporters were attacked with stone throws by young supposed to belong to the presidential party.
“Stoned”, according to his party
In the exchanges and the crowd, at the head of the procession, Dido Kakisingi, youth leader of the Ensemble for the Republic party of Moïse Katumbi in Kindu, was hit by a projectile. On the ground, he was beaten violently to the point of dying, according to his party, claiming that he was simply “stoned”.

But for the mayor of Kindu, the latter fell from a vehicle of the procession before being stamped. The police intervened, firing live ammunition. In the process, several others were injured.

These incidents did not stop the campaign procession of Moïse Katumbi who held his rally to ask the people to vote.

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GABON – Raymond Ndong Sima, opponent of Ali Bongo, appointed Transitional Prime Minister

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The President of the transition in Gabon, General Brice Oligui Nguema, appointed Thursday, September 07, 2023 the Transitional Prime Minister Raymond Ndong Sima, an economist and opponent of the president, Ali Bongo, overthrown by the military a week ago, according to a decree read on state television.

Raymond Ndong Sima, 68, had been Prime Minister of Ali Bongo from 2012 to 2014, but he had moved away from power. He regularly accused the power of Ali Bongo of bad governance, until he stood against the head of state at the presidential elections of 2016 and 2023. This year, he joined the Alternance 2023 platform after running and had therefore withdrawn his candidacy to give way to a consensual candidate, Albert Ondo Ossa.

Finally on Wednesday, September 7, Raymond Ndong Sima slammed the door of the coalition, declaring that the situation was «confused for several days» within the group. So he was free from any party because he is an independent candidate. It is not surprising that the junta chose him.

Raymond Ndong Sima is an economist from the north of the country. He completed part of his studies in France before joining the Gabonese Ministry of Economy. Member of the presidential party, the Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG), he finally won a portfolio in 2009, becoming Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries.

Break with the CEO in 2015
Two years later, he also won a seat as an MP. Raymond Ndong Sima is known for his lively temperament. He did not hesitate to criticize the CEO, which led to a break in 2015, when he moved to the opposition. Since then, he has been a virulent critic of Ali Bongo’s regime.

In Gabon, General Brice Oligui Nguema, who led the coup of August 30 against a barely proclaimed re-elected Ali Bongo, was sworn in Monday, September 4 as President of a transition period, the duration of which he did not set, and at the end of which he promised “free elections”. On Monday, he also announced the formation of a transitional government including personalities from all political stripes.

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CENTRAL AFRICA

GABON – A general takes the reins of Libreville City Hall

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Following the coup of 30 August 2023, the military junta led by General Brice Clotaire Oligui announced the dissolution of the country’s government institutions. As part of this transition, a new provisional government will soon be appointed based on information received on September 7, 2023.

It is in this perspective that Brigadier General Judes Ibrahim Rapontchombo was appointed as the new head of the Gabonese capital, replacing the former mayor Christine Mba Ndutume, appointed by presidential decree in July 2021.

General Rapontchombo, previously military governor in 2020, has the mission to restore order within an institution shaken in recent years by many financial scandals.

It should be noted that Brigadier General Judes Ibrahim Rapontchombo will be supported in this mission by the former chief of the military prytanee, Commissioner-Colonel Gaude Stive Okoumba, who will assume the role of financial director. This team of soldiers has already begun a new chapter in the management of the Libreville City Hall, by carrying out a first control within the financial management of the City Hall.

As a reminder, 64 years old and in power for 14 years, Ali Bongo Odimba was deposed during a putsch conducted without bloodshed, less than an hour after his camp had proclaimed his re-election to the presidency in a vote described as fraudulent by the putschists. The coup was led by General Oligui, who gathered behind him all the army and police corps, and rallied almost all the parties of the former opposition and part of the formerThe majority as well as a massive surge of a population thanking him for having “liberated” 55 years of “Bongo dynasty” in power.

The military authorities promised to “hand over power to civilians” at the end of a transition whose duration has not been fixed, after having adopted “by referendum”, a new Constitution that will have to be drawn up with the participation of “all the living forces of the Nation” and which will lead to “free and transparent elections”.

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