On August 30, 2023, Gabon was rocked by a coup d’état orchestrated by the military. At the heart of this attempt to take power is General Brice Oligui Nguema, head of the Republican Guard. He was cheered by hundreds of soldiers and was carried in triumph to cries of “Oligui president”, according to images broadcast by state television. But who really is General Brice Oligui Nguema?
Twenty years ago, when Gabon was under the leadership of Omar Bongo, one of Africa’s longest-serving presidents, Brice Oligui Nguema began to make a name for himself. As Omar Bongo’s aide-de-camp, he had access to the inner circles of power, participating in strategic decisions and witnessing internal political dynamics. This position allowed him to build strong ties not only with the president himself, but also with other key figures in the regime.
Tensions with Ali Bongo
When Ali Bongo succeeded his father as president, the relationship between him and Oligui Nguema took a different turn. The exact reasons for their differences remain subject to speculation, but they were serious enough for Ali Bongo to decide to exile Oligui Nguema. First at the Gabonese embassy in Morocco, then in Senegal. These exiles, far from being diplomatic vacations, were attempts to marginalize Oligui Nguema and keep him away from Gabon’s internal affairs.
Despite these tensions and these trials, Oligui Nguema’s main mission has never changed: to ensure the protection of Ali Bongo. This demonstrates his loyalty to the country and his professionalism. Even though he may have disagreed with the president, he always understood the importance of his mission as he liked to say: “Protecting the head of state was not only a professional duty, but also a matter of national security.”
But General Brice Oligui Nguema is not only known for his strategic position within the Gabonese army, but also for his charismatic personality and his interpersonal skills.
Ease and communication
Described as being well-off, General Oligui Nguema has remarkable communication skills. This ease of conversation allowed him to build strong relationships not only within the army, but also with key players on the political and media scene in Gabon. His lack of fear in front of journalists testifies to his self-confidence and his transparency. In an environment where relations between the army and the media can be tense, his willingness to dialogue is a valuable asset.
Being at the head of the Republican Guard is no easy feat. This strategic position gives it a major responsibility in protecting state institutions and the president himself. The confidence placed in him to hold this position is a testament to his military expertise, leadership and loyalty to the country.
Family origins: Deep roots in Gabon
The genealogy of General Oligui Nguema is deeply rooted in the history and geography of Gabon. Originally from Woleu-Ntem, a region located in the north of Gabon, the general has roots in an area known for its cultural and historical richness. This region, bordering Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea, played a key role in the political and economic history of Gabon.
The general’s mother, coming from the same region as the Bongo family, reinforces the historical and political ties between him and one of the most influential families in Gabon. This connection may have played a role in his military and political career, providing him with both opportunities and challenges.