In a twist that has captured the world’s attention, military leaders in the heart of Africa, Gabon, have announced a bold takeover of power. This stunning development follows a series of contentious elections, which had appeared to cement the Bongo family’s reign over the impoverished nation for a staggering 56 years. The live broadcast declaration by the soldiers has sent shockwaves worldwide, revealing the motivations behind their resolute intervention.
The grip President Bongo held on Gabonese politics has raised local and global concerns alike. Accusations of stifling the democratic process cast a shadow over his administration, and the recent elections only added fuel to the flames of dissatisfaction. The announcement of his third-term victory, amidst widespread doubts about the credibility of the results, triggered outrage among citizens who had longed for a fresh beginning.
Amidst the turmoil, soldiers chose the medium of live television to make a momentous proclamation: the election results were nullified, and the nation’s borders sealed. These measures were taken in response to escalating concerns of potential civil unrest. The military’s swift and decisive intervention aimed to restore stability and safeguard the nation’s interests.
The soldiers’ announcement extended beyond the annulment of elections and border closures. They boldly declared the dissolution of key institutions that had propped up President Bongo’s regime. The Senate, National Assembly, Constitutional Court, Economic, Social and Environmental Council, and the Gabonese Elections Centre were all dismantled in a daring move that underscored the military’s unwavering determination to terminate the prevailing regime.
As news of the military’s assumption of power spread, echoes of gunshots reverberated through Gabon’s capital, Libreville. The charged atmosphere on the streets mirrored the intense power struggle playing out on the national stage. The soldiers’ intervention set the scene for a new era in Gabon’s history, though uncertainties lingered about the path that lay ahead.
The Gabonese coup’s impact extended beyond its borders, resonating across international lines. European Foreign Policy Chief, Josep Borrell, expressed grave concerns about the repercussions of this power transition. He cautioned that the coup had the potential to destabilize the entire region, which was already grappling with the aftermath of a similar military intervention in Niger just weeks prior.
At the core of the soldiers’ declaration lay a poignant statement delivered on the Gabon 24 television channel. Translated from French to English, this statement showcased the weight of their concerns. In this emotionally charged address, they lamented Gabon’s descent into institutional, political, economic, and social turmoil. They argued that the recent elections fell short of meeting the transparency and inclusivity standards that the Gabonese people deserved.
The military committee, known as the Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions (CTRI), put forth a transformative manifesto. They viewed the truncated election results and irresponsible governance as catalysts for social upheaval and chaos. Therefore, on August 30, 2023, the CTRI took a historic stance, putting an end to the existing regime. The dissolution of key institutions embodied their commitment to ushering in an era of stability.
Amid the turbulence, the soldiers earnestly implored the public, sister communities residing in Gabon, and the Gabonese diaspora to maintain calm and serenity. They aimed to reaffirm their dedication to the nation’s international obligations and commitments. Their message of hope and unity resonated as they declared their journey towards a brighter Gabon, invoking blessings from the country’s ancestors.
The military’s intervention in Gabon has shaken the foundations of a longstanding regime. Acting as agents of change, soldiers have drawn upon Gabon’s past to guide the nation towards a future marked by stability and prosperity. As Gabon steps into uncharted territory, the world watches with bated breath, waiting to witness the unfolding narrative that will determine the fate of this central African nation.
Read the full English translation from French of the statement, read out by one of the officers on the Gabon 24 television channel
“Our beautiful country, Gabon, has always been a haven of peace. “Today, the country is going through a serious institutional, political, economic and social crisis.
“We are therefore forced to admit that the organisation of the general elections of 26 August 2023 did not meet the conditions for a transparent, credible and inclusive ballot so much hoped for by the people of Gabon.
“Added to this is irresponsible and unpredictable governance, resulting in a continuing deterioration in social cohesion, with the risk of leading the country into chaos.
“Today, 30 August 2023, we — the defence and security forces, gathered as the Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions (CTRI) on behalf of the people of Gabon and as guarantors of the institutions’ protection — have decided to defend peace by putting an end to the current regime.
“To this end, the general elections of 26 August 2023 and the truncated results are cancelled. “The borders are closed until further notice.
“All the institutions of the Republic are dissolved: the government, the Senate, the National Assembly, the Constitutional Court, the Economic, Social and Environmental Council and the Gabonese Elections Centre.
“We call for calm and serenity from the public, the communities of sister countries settled in Gabon, and the Gabonese diaspora. “We reaffirm our commitment to respecting Gabon’s commitments to the national and international community. “People of Gabon, we are finally on the road to happiness.
“May God and the spirits of our ancestors bless Gabon. Honour and loyalty to our homeland. “Thank you.”