Gabon has reopened its borders three days after a military coup that ousted President Ali Bongo. The coup was led by General Brice Oligui Nguema who placed Bongo under house arrest and installed himself as head of state, ending the Bongo family’s 56-year hold on power. The coup has raised concerns about the further spread of military takeovers across the region, which have erased democratic progress made in the past two decades.
The leaders of the coup in Gabon have come under international pressure to restore civilian government but they said last night that they would not rush to hold elections. An army spokesman said on national television that the country’s land, sea and air borders were reopened because the junta was “concerned with preserving respect for the rule of law, good relations with our neighbours and all states of the world” and wanted to keep its “international commitments”.
Bongo was elected in 2009, taking over from his late father, Omar, who came to power in 1967. Opponents say the family did little to share Gabon’s oil and mining wealth. The takeover in Gabon follows coups in Guinea, Chad and Niger, plus two each in Mali and Burkina Faso since 2020, worrying international powers with strategic interests at stake.