Gabon’s new military leader, Gen. Brice Clotaire Oligui Nguema, was sworn in as head of state just days after ousting President Ali Bongo Ondimba, who had been in power for over five decades. Oligui, a cousin of the former president, took the oath in a packed ceremony in Libreville, promising to hold free, transparent, and credible elections to return power to the people. The mutinous soldiers who toppled Bongo cited concerns about his leadership and the lack of transparency in the recent elections.
Oligui’s quick inauguration aims to establish legitimacy and deter potential challengers, but his plans to rewrite the constitution and electoral code may prolong the transition. Gabonese citizens, tired of the Bongo family’s decades-long rule, are hopeful for a fresh start and accept a transition period of up to three years.
Gabon, an OPEC member, faces economic challenges despite its oil wealth, with a significant portion of the population unemployed. The Bongo family is under investigation in France for alleged embezzlement and corruption, with ties to over $92 million in properties. The country’s oil export revenue was $6 billion in 2022, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Oligui’s leadership marks a pivotal moment in Gabon’s history, with the hopes of addressing long-standing issues and ensuring a more equitable future for its people.