It is no longer news that former president of Gabon, Ali Bongo Ondimba was deposed in a coup last week, which ended decades of his family rule in the central African nation.
While the ex-president has been released from hose arrest by the military junta now in charge and is free to leave the country, for medical care, there is still a lot going on in the country. Mr Bongo’s health may be the incident that led to his eventual ouster.
Bongo succeeded his father Omar Bongo as president after he ruled the oil rich Gabon for 42 years. This of course was not well received by the 2.3 million population, as his rule was also tainted by widespread corruption. He was removed from power not long after being re-elected for a third term in a widely disputed election.
The coup was so well received with relief that the military junta wasted no time consolidating power by appointing opposition leader, Raymond Ndong Sima, as the prime minister of transitional government on Thursday and swearing in the coup leader, General Brice Oligui Nguema, who is said to be a cousin of the overthrown president as interim president on Monday.
This Gabon coup is the eighth coup in both West and Central Africa. The coup in Gabon has not attracted as much anti-French riots as Niger which has also displayed a strong, pro-Russian tone.
The Central African regional bloc, ECCAS, the Central African organization suspended Gabon on Monday but sent the president of Central African Republic, Faustin-Archange Touadera, as representative to Nguema.
General Nguema has promised to hold free and fair elections but a date or how it will proceed has not was not shared.
Mr. Bongo’s family had been detained earlier along with several senior advisers on charges including corruption, embezzlement and treason.
“Given his state of health, former president of the republic Ali Bongo Ondimba is free to move about,” Col. Ulrich Manfoumbi, the spokesman for the transition committee, said. “He may, if he so wishes, travel abroad to undergo medical checkups.”
Abdou Abarry, the head of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa had on Wednesday met with the former president at his residence in the capital, Libreville, he also met with General Nguema and later told reporters that the U.N. was ready to support Gabon as it transitioned back to a “constitutional order.”
The ex-president, is known as keen musician and earlier on as an environmentalist who received praises for preserving the rainforests that cover 90 percent of Gabon.
Bongo had quickly dispatched a video asking his “friends all over the world” to “make noise” about the military takeover, which has been become memes on social media.
It is believed that the release of the former president means he was not the main target of the coup, the targets seem to be potential successors his wife, Sylvia Bongo Ondimba, and his son, Noureddin Bongo Valentin.