General Brice Oligui Nguema has been officially appointed "President of the Transition" in Gabon, according to a statement broadcasted by the Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions (CTRI) yesterday. The senior army officer was “unanimously” appointed following "a meeting attended by all the commanders-in-chief, the chiefs of staff, as well as the generals in inactive duty,” said Colonel Ulrich Manfoumbi Manfoumbi, spokesman for the CTRI, the junta in power in Gabon.
A few hours after the putsch, General Brice Oligui Nguema was triumphantly paraded by units of the republican guards, who were chanting "Oligui, president!" “Oligui, President!” in a video looped for some time on state-owned TV channels Gabon 24 and Gabon 1. The general was until then the head of the Republican Guard (GR), a branch of the Gabonese army in charge of the security of the President of the Republic.
The son of an officer, he trained at the Royal Military Academy in Meknes, Morocco. He was appointed to the head of the Republican Guard, two years ago, by the ousted president Ali Bongo Ondimba, who is also his cousin. Before his appointment to the head of the army branch, he worked as a military attaché at the Gabonese embassy in Morocco and Senegal for some ten years. He was deployed there after Ali Bongo Ondimba became president in September 2009. At the time, some saw this appointment to the position of military attaché as a way to send him into exile due to the strained relations between him and the now-deposed president.
Brice Oligui Nguema is known to have worked with Omar Bongo Ondimba until his death in June 2009. He was one of the aides-camp of the late Gabonese president and father of Ali Bongo Ondimba. In an exclusive interview with French media Le Monde, the senior officer confirms his involvement in the current coup. On the reasons behind the coup, he refers to "discontent" in Gabon and "the illness of the head of state", who suffered a stroke in October 2018.
"Everyone is talking about it, but no one is taking responsibility. He had no right to serve a third term. The Constitution was flouted, and the election mode was flawed. So, the army has decided [...] to assume its responsibilities," he said.
As soon as he was appointed president of the transition, Gabon's new ruler ordered "the reconnection of fiber optics" and "the re-establishment of international radio and TV signals on the various broadcasting packages available in Gabon (RFI, France 24 and TV5Monde in particular, editor's note).” The radio and TV signals as well as the Internet were cut on the orders of the government of the ousted president soon after the presidential elections on Saturday – According to the electoral body, the election was won by Ali Bongo with 64.27% of the votes against 30.77% for the main opponent Albert Ondo Ossa. Also, the curfew, in force since August 27, "remains in force from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., until further notice.”
General Brice Oligui Nguema has committed to preserving the economic system, which guarantees “social prosperity”. He is convinced that "a new era" is opening up for Gabon. He promises to guarantee peace, stability, and dignity in the country at a time when international partners are condemning the coup.
Patricia Ngo Ngouem