Issued by CEMO Center - Paris
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Reasons behind Gabon's coup

Tuesday 12/September/2023 - 03:05 PM
The Reference
Ahmed Adel

Military coups as a phenomenon seeped out into Gabon quickly, from neighbouring countries.

Gabon is located in Central Africa. It was the scene of an overthrow by the military of President Ali Bongo on August 30.

The coup brought the army out of its barracks and onto the political stage. The move was championed by a group of 12 officers.

Before the coup

There was a state of grumbling within the military establishment in Gabon about the ruling regime.

It seems that there was an organized operation to overthrow the regime, which was manifested in the fact that a military elite consisting of the Republican Guard tasked with protecting the president, as well as soldiers from the army and elements of the police took control of the official media, and announced via Channel One on Gabonese television the end of the existing regime.

They gave a number of justifications that prompted them to do this, as well as the formulation of a new roadmap for the country.

Army statement

The direct reason that prompted the military elite in Gabon to overthrow Bongo's regime is evident in the statement made by an army colonel.

In a statement broadcast on Channel One on Gabonese television, the colonel said the last general elections held on August 26 were characterized by a lack of transparency.

This, he said, will jeopardise the unity of the Gabonese society and drag the country into chaos and violence.

In October 2018, the president's health deteriorated after he suffered a stroke.

He then disappeared for ten months. Despite his continued suffering, Bongo was determined to remain in power.

The entourage surrounding the president took advantage of this to carry out illegal actions and abuse power for personal gain.

Therefore, after the coup, the Gabonese army arrested a number of presidential advisers on charges of high treason against state institutions, large-scale embezzlement of public funds, international financial embezzlement by an organized gang, forgery, forgery of the signature of the president of the republic, active corruption, and drug trafficking.

The political situation in Gabon is ambiguous, as the recent presidential elections resulted in the continuation of the rule of the Bongo family which ruled for 56 years.

According to the results announced by the election commission just before the military coup, Bongo won a third presidential term, having received 64.27% of the vote.

There was anger among the opposition in Gabon, which questioned the credibility of the election results, especially in the light of the constitutional amendments approved by the parliament in April 2023, according to which the president's term was reduced from seven to five years and the termination of two rounds of voting.


Despite economic indicators that make Gabon the fourth largest oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa, the population density that does not exceed 2.3 million people, and the high per capita rate of domestic production, this country is witnessing deteriorating economic and social conditions.

Oil accounts for 60% of the country's revenues. It is the largest producer of black gold in sub-Saharan Africa, the seventh largest producer of it in Africa, and a member of the oil-producing countries bloc, OPEC.