Gabon’s transitional president Brice Oligui sworn in to office

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Brice Oligui Nguema, president of the Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions (CTRI), was sworn in as Gabon’s “transitional president” in the capital of Libreville Monday, promising the adoption of a new constitution by referendum and “fair” elections after the transition.

The swearing-in ceremony was held at the presidential palace, known as the “Renovation Palace.”

“I solemnly and honorably undertake to do everything possible to achieve national unity. I swear,” Nguema said before the constitutional judges.

A group of military officers on Wednesday appointed Nguema, commander-in-chief of the Gabonese Republican Guard, to head the transition in the name of the CTRI after starting a coup earlier in the day following the announcement of the reelection of President Ali Bongo Ondimba by the national electoral body.

SOLEMN PROMISES

In his remark, the transitional leader, 48, noted that the military took “their responsibilities” in the face of an “outrageously biased electoral process,” referring to the coup Wednesday.

“The defense and security forces of our country took their responsibilities by refusing the electoral coup which had just been declared by the Gabonese Elections Center following an outrageously biased electoral process,” he explained.

Nguema promised a new constitution by referendum, and a new electoral code and a reliable penal code. He also promised to “return power to civilians” and hold “free” and “transparent” elections after the transition without specifying the election date and duration of this transition.

According to him, a new government, “made up of experienced people and people with seasoned skills,” will be put in place in the days to come. Several officials from Ali Bongo’s administration were also present at the ceremony, including Vice President Rose Christiane Ossouka Raponda and Prime Minister Alain-Claude Bilie By Nze.

Bongo, 64, once served as minister of defense and other posts in the government. He was elected president of Gabon in 2009 and was reelected in 2016. He is currently under house arrest, while some of his advisers and senior officials, including his son Noureddin Bongo Valentin, were said to have been arrested for treason, embezzlement and corruption, among other allegations.

Nguema on Thursday decided on the temporary restoration of the Constitutional Court, the gradual establishment of the institutions of the transition, and the resumption of domestic flights. He also asked the cabinet of ministers to ensure the effective resumption of work immediately, as well as the continuity of the operation of all public services.

Gabon’s main opposition group, Alternance 2023, which claims to be the winner of the elections on Aug. 26, has called on the international community to encourage the junta to hand power back to civilians.

INTERNATIONAL CONCERNS

Several African countries, such as Cameroon, Angola and the Republic of the Congo, as well as regional and international organizations, have condemned the coup in Gabon.

The new transitional President said he was “surprised” by the condemnation of the coup by “international institutions,” insisting that the military acted to avoid “bloodshed.”

The African Union (AU) Commission has suspended Gabon from the pan-African bloc until normal constitutional order is restored in the country following the latest military coup.

The Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Central African sub-regional bloc, announced its decision to hold an in-person extraordinary meeting Monday to discuss the coup in Gabon, while the bloc “strongly” condemned the military takeover and called for immediate restoration of constitutional order in Gabon.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also condemned the coup in Gabon. Guterres is following the situation in Gabon very closely, and notes with deep concern the announcement of the election results amid reports of serious infringements of fundamental freedoms, according to a statement.

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