Gabon’s military takeover and Africa’s democracy

By August 30, 2023 August 31st, 2023 No Comments

The preachers of democracy are worried over the spate of military coups across Africa. As West Africa is still contending with the coup in Niger, another French colony, Gabon has experienced a coup. The military on Wednesday announced a takeover following an election that declared President Ali Bongo Ondimba winner for a third term of seven years.

“Today, the country is going through a serious institutional, political, economic and social crisis.We are therefore forced to admit that the organisation of the general elections of August 26, 2023, did not meet the conditions for a transparent, credible and inclusive ballot so much hoped for by the people of Gabon.” the Junta said in a broadcast.

Declaring Ali the winner of the election, gave the Bongo family another chance to continue their reign in the country for almost 56 years post independence. Ali Bongo Ondimba took over from his father who died in 2009.

This would be the eighth coup in former French colonies in Africa in the past three years as Gabon is one of Africa’s major oil producers but poor. France controls the oil mining in Gabon.

“Main opposition candidate Albert Ondo Ossa complained that many polling stations lacked ballot papers bearing his name, while the coalition he represents said the names of some of those who had withdrawn from the presidential race had still been on the ballot sheet.” BBC reported.

Election manipulation is becoming an issue that does not go well with many African people. The ballot paper is manipulated, late arrival of election materials is utilised to disenfranchise a lot of people and the fraudulent manner of declaring the winner, as it happened in Nigeria with plenty recorded ballot box snatching and violence, the electoral commission abrogating its guidelines and the shut down of the upload of presidential results, and the middle of the night declaration of winner – the result is contested in the court. Bongo imposed nationwide internet shutdown as polling drew to a close late Saturday.

“The coup in Gabon came as a surprise but to some extent, it is not really a surprise because if you go back to 2016 for instance when there was an election, the vote was fraudulent with people protesting the results. That was Ali Bongo’s second term,” Ovigwe Eguegu said in AlJazeera.

“There was also bickering between Ali Bongo and France to the point where two days ago on national television a speaker said there was a coup attempt been masterminded by Emmanuel Macron and the opposition,”Adama Gaye told AlJazeera.

The spokesman for France’s government, Olivier Veran says “Paris condemns the coup in Gabon and wants the election result in Gabon to be respected.”

Read Also: Niger: A test of Africa’s resolve

Coups can be military or civilian. As military coups are often easily condemned, civilian coups which happen at the ballot and the declaration of non credible winners are often accommodated in the guise of democracy. Many a time, the wish of the people is truncated through the poorly organised elections as the outcome are often masterminded prior to the exercise.

Democracy in Africa has not proven profitable. The elections are not only manipulated to cheat the aspirations of the people, it is also controlled by international interests. This is done to also maintain local and international economic interests by greedy and corrupt politicians. This has resulted in poor governance and constant spread of poverty. Many politicians who do not want free and fair competition, get elected and are often bereft of ideas to uplift the citizens and this pursuit of power and control has cost Africa a lot.

The people of Gabon like Niger and other countries poured out into the streets to rejoice with the military. It shows how trampling the so-called democracy has fared in Africa, especially the francophone countries.

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell says, “The whole area, starting with Central African Republic, then Mali, then Burkina Faso, now Niger, maybe Gabon, it’s in a very difficult situation and certainly the ministers … have to have a deep thought on what is going on there and how we can improve our policy in respect with these countries,” he said. “This is a big issue for Europe,” he added.

A big issue indeed for Europe whose policy of colonialism, neo-colonialism and undermining the existence of African people along with their African enablers to continue to exploit Africa has greatly led to the awakening of the peoples of Africa in seeking total independence. The future; positive or negative, true to the total independence of Africa is yet to be seen but the awakening is glorious.

The African Union and the regional blocs must begin to ensure that the elections happening in African countries are fair and credible and the sanctity of the ballot box preserved if they are more concerned in deepening democracy. The absence of good governance and democratic dividends only favour the political elites at the detriment of the people. That in essence is not democracy. The welcoming of the military interventions by the people of Niger and Gabon and other countries through the joy in the streets could well be said military rule is of the wish of the people. How the soldiers manage the trusts on them for public good, will yet be seen.

When democracy in Africa becomes people oriented, all hands will be on deck to protect and preserve it.

Leave a Reply