We canceled election results to prevent 'bloodshed': Gabon new leader
The leader of the transitional phase in Gabon says after the constitution is drafted, electoral systems will be put in place, and elections will be held directly afterward.
The leader of the transitional phase in Gabon, General Brice Oligui Nguema, vowed on Sunday to craft a new constitution for the country, which everyone partakes in its drafting.
During a press conference attended by representatives of local and international media, Nguema indicated that after the constitution is drafted, electoral systems will be put in place, and elections will be held directly afterward.
General Nguema reiterated that ousted President Ali Bongo won the presidential elections through fraud, and therefore, the results were canceled to prevent "bloodshed".
A couple of days ago, the military had reassured international donors they would "respect all commitments" at home and abroad and "phase in" transitional institutions.
On Saturday, Gabon's military leaders announced that the country's land, sea, and air borders will be reopened after they were closed since August 30 due to the recent coup that toppled Bongo, who has since been placed under house arrest, while his son has been detained.
Bongo was toppled moments after being declared winner in bitterly disputed weekend elections. The Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions (CTRI), which includes the heads of all army corps, said he had been "placed in retirement."
The coup announcement came just moments after the national election authority declared Bongo had won a third term in Saturday's election with 64.27% of the vote.
The poll, condemned as bogus by the opposition, was declared canceled by the new CTRI leaders.
The elections "did not meet the conditions for a transparent, credible and inclusive ballot so much hoped for by the people of Gabon," they said in a statement.
"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."
The African Union's Peace and Security Council strongly condemned the coup and said it decided to "immediately suspend" Gabon until the restoration of constitutional order in the country.
Gabon's opposition Alternance 2023 alliance had remained silent since the coup, but on Thursday called on the military leaders to acknowledge its victory in the election.
The alliance "invited the defence and security forces to the discussion so as to work out... the best solution," following the vote.
Led by university professor Albert Ondo Ossa, Alternance had earlier accused Bongo of "fraud" and demanded he hand over power "without bloodshed".
Ondo Ossa on Thursday claimed the Bongo clan remained in control and there had not been a coup but a "palace revolution".
"Oligui Nguema is Ali Bongo's cousin," he told France's TV5 Monde.
"The Bongos found that Ali Bongo had to be put aside to be able to properly pursue the Bongo system."
"Oligui Nguema is an underling. Behind him, it's the Bongo clan keeping hold of power," he said, urging international help to "restore order".
Bongo was elected in 2009 following the death of his father, who reputedly amassed a fortune from Gabon's oil wealth.
In 2016, he was re-elected -- again in fiercely disputed conditions -- before suffering a stroke in 2018 that weakened his grip on power.
According to media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the vote was held without international observers, and foreign journalists had been restricted from covering the event.
It is noteworthy that five other countries in Africa -- Mali, Guinea, Sudan, Burkina Faso, and Niger -- have undergone coups in the last three years.
Some former #French colonies in #Africa seem beset by coups, the latest of which is the military takeover in #Gabon. Could these events be attempts to break free from the French #ColonialPact? pic.twitter.com/180e0IBrdD— Al Mayadeen English (@MayadeenEnglish) September 1, 2023