Putsch in Gabon: France suspends its military cooperation

Coups in Africa A conservative wave rejects democratic and liberal

This is a new consequence of the putsch by Gabonese soldiers who on Wednesday dismissed outgoing President Ali Bongo Ondimba, in power for 14 years, shortly after the announcement of his re-election as head of the country. In an interview At Figaro published Friday evening, September 1, the Minister of the Armed Forces Sébastien Lecornu announced the suspension of military cooperation between France and Gabon, where some 400 French soldiers are permanently stationed.

“As far as the military presence is concerned, they are soldiers who do training and who have always been alongside the Gabonese army. At present, their activities have been suspended while waiting for the political situation to be clarified. “, he commented. These permanent, so-called prepositioned forces, participate in the protection of French nationals, stand ready to reinforce operations and cooperate with the Gabonese national armies and neighboring countries, such as Cameroon, for exercises or training.

Promise of a new Constitution

This putsch comes a few weeks after another coup, in Niger, where soldiers have been holding the democratically elected president Mohamed Bazoum prisoner there since the end of July – which France disputes. Sébastien Lecornu nevertheless wanted to differentiate between the two events. “France condemns all acts of force […] However, we cannot equate the situation in Niger, where illegitimate soldiers have deposed a legitimately elected president, and that of Gabon, where the motive advanced by the soldiers is precisely the non-respect of the electoral law. and of the Constitution. Because in fact, and, I am weighing my words, there are doubts about the sincerity of the elections in this country”, underlines the French Minister of the Armed Forces.

In a speech to the diplomatic corps broadcast on television on Friday, General Brice Oligui Nguema, who led the military putsch in Gabon, promised to “reorganize” the institutions in a “more democratic” way and more respectful “of human rights “. But he did not set a duration for the “transition” for which he will be sworn in as president on Monday in Libreville.

During another speech before representatives of civil society, he also promised a new “Constitution which goes in the direction of the aspirations of the Gabonese people who have remained too long in suffering” and “a new electoral code”. Adding however: “Given the context, let’s not confuse speed with haste, which goes slowly, goes surely.”