Military leaders in the Central African nation of Gabon announced that they had taken power, ousted the government, and placed its longtime President Ali Bongo under house arrest. The officers introduced themselves as members of the Committee of Transition and the Restoration of Institutions (CTRI). They annulled the official results from the Aug. 26 presidential election, closed borders, and dissolved state institutions.
The early-hours announcement on State Television was a day after Gabon’s electoral authority declared Mr. Bongo, 64, had won a third term in the elections that was marred with accusations of fraud and lack of transparency.
“Today the country is undergoing a severe institutional, political, economic, and social crisis,” the officers said in a statement. “In the name of the Gabonese people … we have decided to defend the peace by putting an end to the current regime,” they stated.
General Brice Clotaire Oligui Nguema, Commander-in-Chief of the Republican Guard was named “President of the Transition” to replace Mr. Bongo, who ruled the resource-rich nation since the death of his father Omar Bongo in 2009. The elder Bongo reigned for 42 years. In a brief ceremony, Mr. Nguema was officially sworn in as the transitional head of state on Sept. 4. Although no specific timetable was given, Mr. Nguema projected the return to civilian rule after “free, transparent and reliable” elections.
Some analysts say the take-over marks the end of the 56-year family dynasty over the Central African nation of nearly 2.4 million people. However, others say it is still family because the transitional leader is a cousin of the ousted Ali Bongo. Before assuming his top military post, Mr. Nguema was an “aide-de-camp” to a commander in the elder Omar Bongo’s Republican Guard.
Also detained was President Bongo’s oldest son, Noureddin Bongo-Valetin; his chief-of-staff, Ian Ghislain Ngoulou; and spokesman Jessye Ella Ekogha. Among other allegations, they are accused of treason, embezzlement, corruption, and forging the president’s signature.
In a widely circulated video that President Bongo said was from within his residence on Aug. 30, he appealed to “friends all over the world” to “make noise” to support him. However, in the capital Libreville, media images showed crowds singing and celebrating the apparent fall of the Bongo political dynasty, whom they accused of enriching themselves from Gabon’s natural wealth. More than 33 percent of Gabonese people live in abject squalor, according to the World Bank.
Gabon is Africa’s second-largest manganese producer and fourth-largest oil producer, and a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
The coup is the eighth unconstitutional power grab in West and Central Africa on a list of military overthrows in the last 36 months. So far, the African Union has suspended Gabon’s membership and the regional Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) strongly condemned the coup and called for a “rapid return” to constitutional order. As the clarion call to restore “democratic rule” and “rules-based” order echoes forth, African analysts and observers are speaking on what it all indicates.
“There’s no democratic governance to restore,” said commentator and Ghana journalist Kweisi Pratt. He told The Final Call these African governments have not been democratic nor pursued the interests of their people over their former colonial masters.
“The massive support that the coup leaders are getting is indicative of the fact that people are fed up with the manner in which African states have been governed,” said Mr. Pratt.
He said despite the apparent popular support for the changes, these are not popular people’s movements, these are military leaders who have seized power. For Gabon, some African watchers said it’s still too early to tell where the coup will go.
A revolution not a coup?
These overthrows across Africa come while an upending of the international order is in play, say observers. Rising anti-Western resentment is sending shock waves to France which is experiencing a popular wave of rejection in her former colonies. African people are calling for total change, not a reshuffled arrangement with a former colonial ruler.
Anti-imperialist advocates continue their demands against any foreign intervention in Niger. Military leaders ousted its pro-Western leader in late July at the ire of some West African countries, the U. S., and France—Niger’s former colonial ruler. The military junta has gained popular support and proposed to rule as a transitional government for three years, which the opposing powers reject.
Meanwhile, the regional Economic Organization of West African States (ECOWAS) remains bent on military intervention as a “last resort” if the junta doesn’t reverse course and return Niger’s deposed President Mohammed Bazoum to power.
The junta has placed its forces on “maximum alert” against possible attack, along with allies Burkina Faso, Mali, and Guinea-Conakry. In addition, Pan-African and anti-imperialist advocates are campaigning against ECOWAS and its Western associates invading.
Some see the overthrows and subsequent unity of Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Guinea, not as “coups” but as an African “revolution” whose time has come.
“There are many commentators around the world who are talking about coups in Niger, and Niger has now become the poster boy or poster girl for what the Western world wants to believe is wrong, and that is not correct,” said P.L.O. Lumumba, a Pan-Africanist and renowned lawyer.
He gave the remarks during an Aug. 26 Webinar hosted by the African Diaspora Development Institute (ADDI).
“I hold the view that what has happened in Niger is the beginning of a revolution or the continuation of a revolution started in Burkina Faso. Guinea, Mali … in Chad and I want to see it go on in Togo … Benin … in Senegal,” he added.
France was one of the most diabolical colonizers the world has ever seen, Mr. Lumumba told the 800 people on the webinar. She (France) never left, she is alive and well in Africa.
Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao, founder, president, and CEO of ADDI sees what happened in Niger as an “ideological realignment of our economic, political and social values” and not a coup.
She argues, that in West Africa, unlike past coups, these were not orchestrated by the likes of France, other places, and multinationals only concerned about what was in Africa. Those coups were part of their agenda of keeping the resources flowing, enriching themselves to the detriment of Africans.
The uprising of the people is against the pernicious hands of France and its current and historical evil. “You and me who know better must speak out in the knowledge that going forward, what we must do is to resist these Neo-colonizers,” said Mr. Lumumba.
“They have no shortage of the individuals who they use as pawns on their political chessboard,” Mr. Lumumba stated. “Our duty is to stop them,” he added.
He advocates demanding that ECOWAS refrain from thwarting the people’s revolution by being the arrowhead, local manipulator, or implementer of the diabolical machinations of Europe and America.
There was no coup in Niger, Guinea and Burkina Faso, said Mr. Lumumba. “This was a people’s revolution.”
It’s the Black man and woman’s time
“What is happening in Niger is finally the Black man is standing up. The Black man and the Black woman are saying no more shall Africa continue to be exploited,” said Dr. Chihimbori-Quoa.
There is a Latin phrase: “Vox Populi, Vox Dei,” or “the voice of the people is the voice of God.” This is the juncture of history and the time and what must be done.
The Gabon coup did not accompany the anti-West sentiment seen in Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Guinea-Conakry. But it came amid a time of a universal cry for justice and strong dissatisfaction with the status quo of inequity.
In a 2015 speech titled, “The Intensifying Universal Cry For Justice,” the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam said the change that will satisfy the cry cannot come from any present ruler, but from God Himself. No institution, government or religious order that presently exists can satisfy the cry of the people, neither in your own order, much less the order of someone else, explained Minister Farrakhan.
“Because what is demanded out of the very Nature of God, and the nature and order of His creation,” he reasoned, “is inside the nature of the people, that has been stirred, now, by the cry for justice,” the Minister said.
“There’s something in you that is crying out, and it cannot be met in the political arena, or the voting booth. The people are crying out for The Kingdom of God to be established on the Earth,” said Minister Farrakhan.
The cry is for a “new heaven and a new earth,” he said, using scriptural language. “A ‘new heaven’ means a new spiritual order and a new political order governed by the spiritual order that will bring human beings together. Not on the basis of color of skin, or ethnicity or biology, but on the basis of our desire to do that which is right.”
France laments over losing Africa
French President Emanuel Macron lamented at an Aug. 28 annual address to French diplomats that France finds itself in a changing, complicated world that is turning more into an anti-West haven. Critics argue Mr. Macron’s bellyaching represents the pain of the “chickens coming home to roost” after decades of French exploitation and pillaging of Africa and elsewhere.
Minister Farrakhan and his teacher, the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, cautioned that Western powers are suffering the pangs from the Divine Law of reciprocity: “Whoever sows injustice reaps calamity, and the rod they wield in fury will be broken” [Proverbs 22:8].
“With the end of the rule of the White race over the Black people of earth in sight—face to face—we have to deal with each other according to the actual facts which exist between the two nations (Black and White),” wrote the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad in Chapter 43 of His eye-opening book, “The Fall of America.”
“With the nature and desire of the White race to continue their rule and subjection of the darker people even though the White man recognizes these facts, he will continue to try holding onto his rule; his subjection; his thinking of what he has acquired under such rule—that which is his and he cannot give up the prey—his concession—the merchandise which he has exploited out from under the noses and eyes of the real owners (Black man),” he said.
Pertaining to holding power and authority in Africa, Mr. Muhammad said: “They will just have to give it up. England, Germany, Italy and France,” he said.