The President of the Central African Republic, Faustin Archange Touadera, has engaged in discussions with the newly-installed military ruler of Gabon, with the aim of creating a roadmap for the country’s return to civilian rule. However, no specific timeline has been established yet for the restoration of democracy or the formulation of the plan to achieve this.
In the aftermath of a recent coup that ended the 50-year reign of the Bongo family, General Brice Oligui Nguema was sworn in as interim president of Gabon. This development has added Gabon to the growing list of African countries that have experienced coups in the past three years, including Mali, Guinea, Sudan, Burkina Faso, and Niger. Such incidents have raised concerns both within Africa and internationally.
A key step towards rejoining the African Union for Gabon would be the establishment of a credible roadmap for the return to civilian rule.
The Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) has dispatched President Touadera of the Central African Republic as its representative to engage in discussions with Interim President Oligui in Libreville. The purpose of these talks is to draft a roadmap that would facilitate a swift return to constitutional order with the consent of Oligui.
President Touadera revealed this information during a brief televised statement in Gabon. A senior official within Oligui’s entourage confirmed that the agreement at this stage is limited to the creation of a blueprint, without providing any further details or timeline.
The coup on August 30 received support from various factions, including the army, the police, a significant portion of the political opposition, and certain members of the party of ousted president Ali Bongo Ondimba. Ondimba was apprehended by soldiers shortly after being declared the winner of a presidential election marred by allegations of fraud.
Touadera also disclosed that he had met with Ali Bongo, with the permission of Oligui. However, no information regarding Bongo’s current situation or state of mind was divulged, except that the meeting was deemed fruitful.
The coup had also garnered support from many Gabonese civilians who were weary of the corruption associated with the Bongo dynasty. Although Gabon is one of the wealthiest countries in Africa due to its oil reserves, a third of the population lives in poverty.
Oligui pledged to hold “free, transparent, and credible elections” to restore civilian rule, but no timeframe was provided. As a consequence of the coup, the 11-nation ECCAS suspended Gabon and ordered the immediate relocation of its headquarters from Gabon to Equatorial Guinea.
In the meantime, a representative from the United Nations expressed readiness to assist Gabon in its transition back to constitutional order. Abdou Abarry, the Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary-General in Central Africa, met with Nguema and assured him that the UN was prepared to support the country as it embarks on a new chapter.
“Once we have knowledge of the roadmap and timetable, and once a government has been established, our various agencies will establish contact and continue to support Gabon,” Abarry stated.
Additional reporting by Reuters.