Gabon political situation: Newly appointed PM urges democratic elections within 24 months
Gabon’s recent coup has sparked discussions about the future of the country’s leadership. The new prime minister, Raymond Ndong Sima, believes that it is crucial for Gabon to hold fresh elections within the next two years. While the junta responsible for the coup has promised a fair election, they have not yet provided a specific timeline. Sima, however, expressed his belief that the elections should take place within the mentioned two-year timeframe. The exact schedule for these elections will be determined in the coming days.
Sima, who assumed the role of interim prime minister after the coup, has taken over from General Brice Oligui Nguema, the leader of the military rebellion and the current transitional president of Gabon. Ali Bongo, the former president, had been in power since 2009, following in the footsteps of his father, who ruled the country for over 40 years. The Bongo family had strong ties to France, Gabon’s former colonial power. As a result, the coup has faced criticism both within Africa and from Western nations, including France.
Despite the controversial nature of the coup, many civilians in Gabon have shown support for the change in leadership, applauding Nguema during his inauguration. Nonetheless, concerns have arisen regarding whether Nguema’s rule will truly depart from that of his predecessor, given his longstanding association with Ali Bongo. When questioned about the changes since the coup, Sima emphasized that the military’s decision to refrain from violence against the population was significant. He also highlighted the commitment to restore democratic institutions.
Acknowledging that transitioning away from the previous regime will require time, Sima emphasized that dismantling the political influence of a family that has ruled for over 50 years cannot be achieved overnight. Although he previously stood against Bongo in two elections and served under him, Sima dismissed the idea of bringing a legal case against the former president. Instead, he stated that the focus should be on the future and voiced doubts about the viability of pursuing a case against Bongo at this particular moment.
Calls for Bongo to face trial on corruption allegations have emerged, but in 2017, a seven-year investigation conducted by France into the Bongo family’s assets was dropped. The family vehemently denied all allegations during this investigation. Bongo, who was previously under house arrest, has now been released, and the junta has allowed him to leave the country for medical check-ups. In the past, he sought medical treatment in Morocco after suffering from a stroke.