Gabon’s coup leaders announced on Thursday the appointment of a prominent opponent to deposed president Ali Bongo Ondimba as interim prime minister, following the August 30 military takeover.
The 68-year-old Raymond Ndong Sima had previously served as prime minister under Bongo from 2012 to 2014.
He then became a staunch critic and competed against him in elections in 2016 and 2023. He fared poorly at the latest polls, whose results announcing Bongo’s contentious win were soon followed by the military coup.
‘Roadmap’ without details
Also on Thursday, a mediator from a regional economic bloc said that the military junta was ready to draw up a “roadmap” for a return to diplomatic rule.
The Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) suspended Gabon earlier this week, as a result of the coup.
But it then sent an envoy, Central African Republic President Faustin Archange Touadera, to Libreville for talks with coup leader General Brice Oligui Nguema.
The French AFP news agency cited a regime official as saying on Thursday Touadera and Nguema agreed to drawing up the blueprint, giving no details.
Under Nguema’s leadership, the military seized power, annulling a recent presidential election minutes after Bongo was announced the winner. Bongo had ruled the country since 2009, while his father Omar Bongo had ruled for 42 years before him.
Meanwhile on Wednesday, the junta said in a statement that Bongo was free to travel abroad for medical checks if he wished. No details were given regarding the health of the deposed president, who had been under house arrest since the August 30 coup.
“He can, if he wishes, go abroad to carry out his medical checks,” Colonel Ulrich Mangoumbi, spokesman for the so-called transition committee, said on state TV.
UN offers to help with transition
Apart from the ECCAS, a United Nations representative also met Nguema on Wednesday, offering support from UN institutions during the country’s transition back to constitutional order.
Abdou Abarry, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in Central Africa, was in Libreville on Wednesday, promising the UN’s assistance.
“Once we know the roadmap, the timetable, once a government will have been appointed, our different agencies will make the necessary contacts and continue to support Gabon,” he said after the meeting, in remarks broadcast on Gabonese television.
Nguema was sworn in as president earlier on Monday.
The oil-rich country’s coup means it has joined several other states in west and central Africa, which have experienced coups in recent years.
However, the most recent coup in Niger saw a different reaction from the international community.
Niger’s military junta deposed elected president Mohamed Bazoum in July, announcing later they planned to try him for treason. Moreover, the junta exhibited a hostile sentiment toward several western states, including former colonizer France, and instead welcomed more involvement from Russia.
Gabon’s military has tried to portray itself as feeling compelled to a
rmt/msh (AFP, Reuters)