The African Union’s Peace and Security Council yesterday suspended Central African Country Gabon where soldiers took over government on Wednesday.
The junta will on Monday inaugurate its leader, Gen. Brice Nguema as the “transitional president of the troubled country.
But Gabon’s main opposition, the Alternance 2023 coalition, wants the coup leaders to declare it as the winner of Saturday’s disputed presidential election.
President Ali Bongo Ondimba, who was named winner of the poll , was overthrown by soldiers on Wednesday, hours after the country’s electoral body declared him re-elected for another term of seven years.
While Ondimba’s ouster and detention drew international condemnations, the Gabonese trooped to the streets hailing the soldiers for ending the Bongo family’s almost 56 years in power.
After a meeting of its Peace and Security Council on the situation, the AU said it had decided to “suspend the participation of Gabon in all activities of its organs and institutions”.
The AU said the meeting was chaired by its Commissioner for Political Affairs Bankole Adeoye and the current holder of the council’s rotating chair, Burundi’s Nyamitwe.
The swearing-in of Gen. Nguema will take place at the constitutional court, said the junta’s Spokesman, Col. Ulrich Manfoumbi, yesterday.
Following the Gabon coup, two African countries moved to ward off the Niger and Gabon experiences by retiring their generals and rejigging their military structures.
The countries are Rwanda which sent 12 generals and 678 soldiers packing and Cameroon which reorganised its Defence Ministry by making new appointments.
Rwanda’s Defence Force (RDF) said President Paul Kagame approved retirements in the military that included officers serving as ambassadors. He also okayed the appointment of a fresh set of generals to lead Army divisions
The RDF explained that prominent figures from Rwanda’s 1994 liberation war, including Gen. James Kabarebe, Gen. Fred Ibingira, and Lt. Gen. Charles Kayonga, were among the retirees.
Kabarebe and Kayonga previously held the position of chief of defence staff of the Rwandan Army.
Other retirees are Lt. Gen. Frank Mushyo Kamanzi, currently Rwanda’s ambassador to Russia and Maj. Gen. Albert Murasira, a former defence minister.
In June, Kagame appointed Juvenal Marizamunda as the new defence minister, succeeding Albert Murasira, who had held the role since 2018.
In Cameroon, President Paul Biya, one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders, made fresh appointments(controllers) within the Defence Ministry’s central administrative unit.
The new controllers are Captain Ajeagah Félix and Colonel Nguema Bourger.
Technical advisers, bureau commissariat and Air Force technical inspector were also appointed by 90-year-old President Biya who has been in power for 41 years.
They called on the coupists to ensure the safety of the ousted President and his family members.
The U.S. in a statement by its Department of State, said: “We remain strongly opposed to military seizures or unconstitutional transfers of power,”
“In addition, we call on all actors to show restraint and respect for human rights and to address their concerns peacefully through dialogue following the announcement of election results. We also note with concern the lack of transparency and reports of irregularities surrounding the election. The United States stands with the people of Gabon.”
It said: “The challenges facing Gabon must be resolved in accordance with the principles of the rule of law, constitutional order and democracy,”
“There are military coups and institutional coups, where you don’t need to take up arms, but if I rig an election to seize power, that is also an irregular way to do it.”