Military Coup in Gabon: A New Challenge to Democracy in Africa

In the latest shocking development in the political landscape of West and Central Africa, a group of high-ranking Gabonese military officers declared a takeover of the state on live television

by Faruk Imamovic
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Military Coup in Gabon: A New Challenge to Democracy in Africa
© Getty Images News/Astrig Agopian

In the latest shocking development in the political landscape of West and Central Africa, a group of high-ranking Gabonese military officers declared a takeover of the state on live television. This announcement came moments after the country's electoral commission declared President Ali Bongo victorious for a third term.

A Nation in Turmoil

The sudden broadcast on the Gabon 24 television channel saw the military officers claim representation of the entire spectrum of security and defense forces within the central African nation. Furthermore, the officers made a startling announcement that the election results were rendered null and void.

They also declared that all national borders would remain shut until further notice and, in an unprecedented move, pronounced the dissolution of major state institutions. As news of this audacious move spread, sounds of gunfire echoed throughout the capital city of Libreville, as corroborated by a Reuters reporter present in the city at the time.

The group of officers who came forward called themselves the "Committee for Transition and Reconstruction of Institutions." Among the institutions they claimed to have disbanded are the government, senate, national assembly, constitutional court, and the very electoral body that had just announced the presidential results.

They added that the country's borders had been closed "until further notice".

A Region on Edge

If the coup attempt proves successful, this would mark the eighth military takeover in West and Central Africa since 2020. The recent history of the region tells a concerning tale.

Nations like Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Chad, and Niger have witnessed similar anti-democratic upheavals, effectively putting a brake on the democratic progress these nations had been making in recent years. The repercussions of these coups are felt far beyond national borders.

Only last month, Niger underwent a military takeover that not only destabilized the Sahel region but also raised alarm bells for global powers like France and the US, both of whom have significant strategic interests in the country.

The events in Gabon serve as a stark reminder of the fragile nature of political ecosystems and the challenges they face.

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