The coup d’état that occurred in Gabon on the night of Tuesday August 29 to Wednesday August 30, 2023 puts an end to the reign of the Bongo family and sends Ali Bongo to rest, while he was still preparing to run for a third term. The military took advantage of the controversy surrounding the 2023 general elections to end a dynasty that lasted 56 years.
In a historic reign of an impressive 56 years, the Bongo family held the reins of power in Gabon. Their reign, which began with the late Omar Bongo in 1967, has indeed left an indelible mark on the political landscape of the nation, especially with Ali Bongo who took over since 2009.
The reign of the Bongos ended a few hours ago by the action of the soldiers who denounced “truncated results” at the end of the 2023 general elections where Ali Bongo Ondimba had just been declared the winner by the Gabonese Elections Center (CGE).
During their long tenure, the Bongo dynasty witnessed transformations, challenges and arguably triumphs. The leadership of the Bongo family has played an important role in the development of Gabon, both nationally and internationally.
However, as with any prolonged reign, challenges and criticisms have also emerged. The quality of governance, transparency and the concentration of power within a single family have long raised questions. These concerns have given rise to debates and discussions on the need for political reforms and greater inclusiveness in Gabon’s democratic processes.
A new unfinished chapter…
The Bongo family, despite Ali Bongo’s visibly poor state of health, had just opened a new chapter in their reign. But very quickly, they saw the soldiers on their way. Immediately declared elected, immediately deposed. Ali Bongo did not even have time to deliver his first speech as President of the Republic of Gabon for his third term.
A few days before the coup, signs of a political crisis were already visible. The opposition was already denouncing electoral fraud. In the process, the government decided to cut the internet connection and establish a curfew in the country.
The putschists denounced “irresponsible and unpredictable governance, which leads to a continued deterioration of social cohesion, with the risk of leading the country into chaos”. The electoral process which they describe as “non-transparent” is the straw that broke the camel’s back. “Today, August 30, 2023, we, the defense and security forces, gathered within the Committee for Transition and Restoration of Institutions (CTRI), on behalf of the Gabonese people and guarantors of the protection of institutions, have decided to defend peace by putting an end to the current regime”declared the junta spokesperson.
Left through the back door?
Several observers of Gabonese political life agree that Ali Bongo could have benefited from an honorable exit if he had given up his third term. It is obvious that this third term is generating a political crisis and socio-economic instability.
The spontaneous joy observed in the streets of the country at the announcement of the coup d’état is a sign of the disapproval by part of the Gabonese people of the third mandate which had just been granted to Ali Bongo.