Gabon;, several Generals, 1,000 soldiers compulsorily retired as coup fear spread across Africa
In a move suspected to be repressive against the growing spate of military coup in the African continent, the African Union’s Peace and Security Council on Thursday suspended Gabon following the Wednesday overthrow of President Ondimba Ali Bongo by soldiers led by the head of the Republican guards, Gen Brice Nguema.
According to The PUNCH, the continental body in a post on X, formerly Twitter, condemned the military takeover of power in the Central African country.
This came as Rwanda and Cameroon hurriedly retired 1, 029 senior officers in a surprise move against their respective militaries.
The Rwandan authorities approved the retirement of 12 generals, including two four-star generals, James Kabarebe and Fred Ibingira, two three-star generals, Charles Kayonga and Frank Mushyo Kamanzi, and several officers.
According to a Rwandan national newspaper, News Times, the government approved the retirement of 12 generals and many officers. The publication stated that the retirements were announced on Wednesday, in a statement issued by Rwanda Defence Force.
Among those retired are two four-star generals, James Kabarebe and Fred Ibingira, two three-star generals, Charles Kayonga and Frank Mushyo Kamanzi.
Kabarebe and Kayonga have previously served as Chief of Defence Staff of RDF, while the other two have been service chiefs previously
The statement partly reads, “The President has also approved the retirement of 83 senior officers, six junior officers and 86 senior non-commissioned officers, 678 whose contracts ended and 160 medical discharges.”
In Cameroon, President Paul Biya has also reshuffled the military with new appointments to the Controle Generale des Armees.
The new controllers are Capt Ajeagah Njei Félix Colonel and Colonel Nguema Ondo Bertin Bourger.
Appointments were also made to the positions of Technical Advisers, Bureau Commissariat, and Air Force Technical Inspector.
Disclosing its decision after a meeting of its Peace and Security Council, the AU said it “decides to immediately suspend the participation of Gabon in all activities of the AU, its organs and institutions.”
It said the meeting was chaired by the AU commissioner for political affairs, Bankole Adeoye of Nigeria, and the current holder of the council’s rotating chair, Burundi’s Willy Nyamitwe.
Nguema for inauguration
In a new development, the junta in Gabon has said Gen Nguema will be sworn in on Monday as the transitional president as the opposition called for its candidate to be recognised as the winner of weekend elections.
The military in a statement on Thursday sought to reassure international donors they would “respect all commitments” at home and abroad and “phase in” transitional institutions.
The spokesman for the new regime, Col Ulrich Manfoumbi, said on state television that the swearing-in of Nguema would take place at the constitutional court.
Gabon’s opposition Alternance 2023 alliance had remained silent since the coup, but on Thursday called on the military leaders to acknowledge its victory in the election.
The alliance “invited the defence and security forces to the discussion so as to work out the best solution,” following the vote.
Led by university professor Albert Ondo Ossa, Alternance had earlier accused President Ali Bongo of “fraud” and demanded he hand over power “without bloodshed”.
Ossa claimed the Bongo clan remained in control and there had not been a coup but a “palace revolution”. “Oligui Nguema is Ali Bongo’s cousin,” he told France’s TV5 Monde.
He stated, “The Bongos found that Ali Bongo had to be put aside to be able to properly pursue the Bongo system. Oligui Nguema is an underling. Behind him, it’s the Bongo clan keeping hold of power,” he said, urging international help to restore order.