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IMMINENT WARNING: GABON’S ARMY OVERTHROWS GOVERNMENT, EIGHTH AFRICAN COUP IN THREE YEARS

August 30, 2023

Benedetta Bisaccia, Lucrezia Taddei CENTCOM/AFRICOM Team

Jennifer Loy, Chief Editor


Gabon Regions Map[1]


Event: On August 30, the Gabonese army announced on national television its control over the government. They ignored the presidential election results and placed President Ali Bongo under house arrest.[2] Representing the security and defense forces, they stated that Bongo’s victory was fraudulent and his governance could jeopardize the country’s stability. The soldiers' declaration included the closure of borders until further notice and the dissolution of all governmental bodies. The announcement escalated tensions, with reports of gunfire in Libreville, the capital. This situation is important because it likely suggests growing instability and increasing violence. This likely endangers public safety and regional stability, likely because Gabon is a major African oil producer. If verified, this occurrence would mark the eighth coup within the former French colonies in Africa over the last three years.[3]


Significance: This conflict will very likely affect Gabon's internal stability and regional security. Key governmental institutions will likely be suspended, very likely leading to a period of uncertainty and power struggles. This will likely undermine public trust in governance and the rule of law, making it challenging to restore stability. This power vacuum will likely lead to civil unrest, protests, and a risk of violence. The absence of a legitimate government will very likely result in a breakdown of public services, further decreasing the stability and safety of Gabonese society. The repercussions will likely increase instability in neighboring regions such as Cameroon, given their linked economic operations, migration patterns, and security concerns. Russia and China will likely seek to leverage the situation to strengthen their influence in Africa. The situation in Gabon will likely provide Russia and China with an opening to create economic partnerships, extend political alliances, or establish military agreements. This interference will likely intensify competition for control over Africa's resources, likely further destabilizing the region. Given France’s historical ties to Gabon, France will likely continue supporting President Bongo, likely provoking actions against French interests within Gabon. France’s support will likely lead to diplomatic tensions, likely straining their relations with other African nations. Similar events will likely unfold in other former French colonies as previous military coups likely amplify the potential for political crises to spread across borders in this region. The repetition of these events will likely impact investor confidence, regional partnerships, and development efforts.


Recommendations

  • The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) recommends that the African Union and UN jointly appoint experienced mediators to facilitate inclusive talks among the military, civilian leaders, and opposition parties.

  • CTG recommends that neighboring countries strengthen regional cooperation to address the effects of instability from Gabon. CTG also recommends that international actors, including organizations like the African Union and the UN, should provide technical assistance and support for inclusive dialogue, encouraging commitment to democratic governance in Gabon.

  • CTG recommends that Gabon prioritize strengthening border security with neighboring countries by deploying joint patrols and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. CTG also recommends the creation of prevention mechanisms, such as diplomatic dialogues and conflict resolution initiatives, and early warning systems, such as including intelligence sharing and monitoring of regional tensions, to identify potential sources of conflict prior to their escalation.

  • CTG recommends that the UN Security Council should closely monitor the situation in Gabon, consider convening emergency sessions to discuss diplomatic measures and ensure an international body oversees the investigation into the coup attempt.

  • CTG

  • If there is any additional and or critical information, please contact us at The Counterterrorism Group (CTG) by Telephone at 202-643-2848 or email info@counterterrorismgroup.com

 

[1] “Gabon Regions map” by Burmesedays licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 [2] Gabon army officers say they have seized power after election in oil-rich country, Reuters, August 2023, https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/gabonese-military-officers-announce-they-have-seized-power-2023-08-30/

[3] Gabon coup: Army cancels elections and seizes power, BBC, August 2023, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-66654965

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