Following the recent military coup that ousted President Ali Bongo, Gabon has been partially excluded from the Commonwealth. The decision came after a meeting of Commonwealth foreign ministers, which took place alongside the United Nations General Assembly.
Gabon’s Commonwealth membership has been partially suspended as leaders of the international organization called on Gabon to uphold the values and principles of the Commonwealth. The foreign ministers further stressed the urgent need for the country to conduct credible elections.
The coup in Gabon led to the removal of Ali Bongo, who had been serving as the president since 2009 after succeeding his father, a long-standing ruler of 41 years. Initially placed under house arrest, Bongo was later released and permitted to travel abroad for medical evaluations.
In a statement released by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, the foreign ministers strongly condemned the unconstitutional removal of the elected government from office in Gabon. They also requested Gabon to ensure the safety of Mr. Bongo and his family.
The partial suspension restricts Gabon’s participation in all Commonwealth intergovernmental events, including ministerial and heads of government meetings, and will continue pending the restoration of democracy.
Ndong Sima was appointed the interim prime minister of Gabon
After the coup, Raymond Ndong Sima was installed as the interim prime minister of Gabon. Gen Brice Oligui Nguema, who orchestrated the coup, has assumed the role of Gabon’s transitional president. In a conversation with the BBC, Sima indicated that Gabon plans to hold new elections within the next two years.
According to the Commonwealth ministers, Gabon has until August 30, 2025, to restore democratic practices, particularly by holding credible elections. Failure to show progress by then could lead to Gabon’s complete exclusion from the Commonwealth.
Interestingly, while international condemnation of the coup has been strong, especially within the Gabon Commonwealth circle and among African and Western leaders, the situation on the ground in Gabon suggests a mixed reaction from the populace. Many Gabonese seemed to welcome the change, partly due to widespread skepticism over Bongo’s decision to run for a third term. Doubts have also been raised about his capability to govern effectively, particularly after he suffered a stroke in 2018.
As the international community watches closely, the situation in Gabon presents an intricate balance of geopolitical interests and democratic values. Whatever the final outcome, Gabon’s standing in the Commonwealth is under scrutiny, and the world will be keenly observing whether the country takes steps to realign itself with the values and principles upheld by the Commonwealth.
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