EU rejects seizure of power by force in Gabon, calls for restraint

Calling restraint from all parties in Gabon, the European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell rejected the seizure of power by military junta, Reuters reported Thursday.

Earlier on Wednesday, a military junta disposed the Gabon President Ali Bongo and put him under house arrest while cancelling election results that had handed Bongo a third term. Hours after seizing power in the Central African nation, the junta appointed General Brice Nguema — a cousin of ousted President Ali Bongo — as transitional head.

It is the eighth military coup of the OPEC member state since 2020.

“The challenges facing Gabon must be resolved in accordance with the principles of the rule of law, constitutional order and democracy,” reported Reuters quoting Borrell. “The country’s peace and prosperity, as well as regional stability, depend on it,” he added.

The EU foreign policy chief said that the block shared the “serious concerns” about the way in which the presidential election that preceded the coup was organised and conducted.

Borrell further told reporters during a meeting of the bloc’s foreign ministers in Spain that the Gabonese election had been “plagued by irregularities”.

“There are military coups and institutional coups, where you don’t need to take up arms, but if I rig an election to seize power, that is also an irregular way to do it,” Borrell added.

Meanwhile, General Nguema said, “The decision to remove Bongo was motivated by the president’s ill health, along with what he described as a flawed August 26 election that secured him a third term in office,” reported Bloomberg.

“He did not have the right to serve a third term,” Bloomberg reported Nguema saying. “The constitution was flouted, the method of election itself was not good. So the army decided to turn the page, to take responsibility,” he added.

Gabon is one of OPEC’s smaller members, pumping about 200,000 barrels a day, and has abundant manganese deposits, though these resources haven’t translated into better living standards. About one-third of the population live below the poverty line, according to the World Bank.



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Updated: 31 Aug 2023, 06:26 PM IST

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