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Gabon’s transitional urgencies and uncertainties outlined by Prime Minister

Gabon Military Leader Gen Nguema Marched Through The Streets

Gabon’s transitional Prime Minister, Raymond Ndong Sima, delivered the main outlines of the transition on Wednesday but did not specify its duration.

At the end of August, the Gabonese army announced that it had taken power, accusing the authorities of poorly organizing the elections and manipulating the results, which declared President Ali Bongo Ondimba as the winner.

“We applauded the military’s action because it helped prevent urban violence, arrests, injuries, and even deaths in the country,” Sima said during his first press conference in Libreville, the capital of the Central African nation.

Sima, 68, was appointed as prime minister on Sept. 7 by General Brice Oligui Nguema, the transitional president. He served as prime minister from 2012 to 2014, and ran for president in the presidential elections both in 2016 and 2023.

While not specifying the duration of the transition period, Sima suggested that the transition should not be too lengthy to “prevent strict application of sanctions against Gabon due to the disruption of the constitutional order.”

“For now, the sanctions imposed are relatively lenient, but if we do not quickly provide guarantees of a serious commitment to returning to international standards, the sanctions will impact us politically and economically,” he warned.

In a previous interview with international press, Sima said he advocated for a transition that would not exceed two years.

The prime minister said that, starting next week, he will launch a call for contributions to engage all layers of Gabonese society. Gabonese citizens will have about two months to submit their written proposals, which will then be reviewed by the ministry responsible for institutional reform.

A secretary will be tasked with collecting and processing all contributions, compiling them into a comprehensive document that will serve as the foundation for the national dialogue, which is expected to be convened before June 2024, he said.

“All segments of society will be engaged in this dialogue,” he noted, adding that the dialogue will establish a constituent assembly responsible for drafting a new constitution and proposing necessary reforms to equip Gabon with “strong institutions.”

A transitional government was established in early September after the military announced the seizure of power in the country on Aug. 30. Nguema has pledged a new Constitution, a new electoral code, and a reliable penal code through a referendum. He also committed to “returning power to civilians” and organizing “free” and “transparent” elections after the transition.

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