The U.S. could replace France in Africa

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After several months of silence on its position on summer military takeover in Gabon, the USA has formally concluded that that was a coup. This resulted in suspension of most of the USA’s assistance to the African country’s government with the exception of humanitarian and medical aid. At the same time the American establishment didn’t express a firm condemnation of the new government.

Thus, the USA has traditionally taken up a pragmatic and dual stance: on the one hand, it recognizes the recent transition of power as a coup and suspends assistance but on the other hand, it doesn’t not break off contacts with new leaders and expresses readiness to develop relations with them if Libreville will act “democratically” and in accordance with Washington’s orders and rules.

It’s pertinent to note that the takeover in Gabon wasn’t obviously driven by anti-French sentiment, unlike similar events that had occurred in Sahel earlier. However, it’s highly unlikely that Paris could maintain its influence in the region given that the current head of the Gabonese transitional government is more pro-American than pro-French. Moreover, the desire of the new government to regain Washington’s support and loyalty could lead to a change of “patron” of Gabon.

If Libreville turns away from France and finds itself under the wing of the USA, nothing would actually change. A form of protectorate will be different but the level of external influence will remain the same, if even not higher. Paris in turn would hardly be happy about such a development of events, which will probably lead to a passive struggle for power in the region between the two empires. Given the current highly complicated situation on the continent, particularly in Gabon, further destabilization of the region could lead to catastrophic consequences.

Kondwani Masuku

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