General Brice Oligui Nguema, who oversaw the overthrow of Gabon’s 55-year-old monarchy last week in a coup, took the oath of office as interim president on Monday
Nguema pledged to organize “free… (and) transparent elections” at a later date.
Wednesday saw a coup attempt against President Ali Bongo Ondimba, scion of a family that had ruled since 1967, led by Oligui, chief of the elite Republican Guard.
The removal occurred immediately after Bongo, 64, was declared the winner of the presidential election last month, a decision that the opposition called a fraud.
Oligui swore before God and the Gabonese people, “I will faithfully uphold the republican regime.”
Oligui also pledged to “preserve the achievements of democracy” during the ceremony held in front of the Constitutional Court judges while wearing the crimson ceremonial uniform of the Republican Guard.
After a transition time that he did not identify, he immediately promised in a speech to hold “free… (and) transparent elections” and to amnesty “prisoners of conscience.”
The leaders of the coup announced on Wednesday that they had overthrown the government, annulled the election results, and temporarily closed the borders.
Oligui is under pressure to outline his strategies for restoring civilian rule because other nations do not recognize him as Gabon’s legitimate president.
Following the coup announcement, Oligui’s troops enthusiastically raised him to his feet. In the days since, he has been spotted walking with generals and colonels by his side.
Additionally, he has engaged in hours-long, high-profile conversations with representatives from the media, political parties, NGOs, unions, businesses, and religions, as well as diplomats and journalists, taking notes and providing detailed responses to queries and complaints.
He promised to establish more democratic institutions that uphold human rights on Friday, but he added that he would move “without haste.”
There are celebrations taking place in the streets of Libreville, the country’s capital, and Port-Gentil, its commercial center, but only a small segment of the old opposition is pressing Oligui to abdicate.
While noting that it differs from others on the continent due to doubts about the validity of the vote itself, a number of Western nations and organizations have denounced the coup.
Naturally, military takeovers are not the answer, but we must not forget that the elections in Gabon had been marred by anomalies, according to Josep Borrell, head of international strategy for the European Union.
After taking over in 2009 when his father Omar, who had ruled Gabon with an iron grip for more than 40 years, passed away, the former president Bongo was running for re-election for a third time.
He was reportedly placed under house arrest and put “in retirement” by the coup’s commanders.
While pleading with “all friends that we have all over the world… to make noise” on his behalf, Bongo was able to spread a video on social media in which he claimed that his son and wife Sylvia had been arrested.
On Friday, national television broadcast rolling photos of Noureddin Bongo Valentin, the son of the ousted president, and other officials who had been detained in front of luggage purportedly containing cash taken from their residences.
In addition to other claims, the military has accused them of treason, theft, corruption, and forging the president’s signature.
Mali, Guinea, Sudan, Burkina Faso, and Niger are the other five African nations that have experienced coups in the past three years. Demands for a quick timeline for going back to the barracks were rejected by their new rulers.