In Gabon, after the putsch, a transition in search of balance

Gradually the institutional architecture of the transition is being put in place in Gabon, since the putsch of August 30 which deposed President Ali Bongo Ondimba (2009-2023), just a few minutes after the proclamation of the results of the ostensibly rigged presidential election

In Gabon, after the putsch, a transition in search of balance

Gradually the institutional architecture of the transition is being put in place in Gabon, since the putsch of August 30 which deposed President Ali Bongo Ondimba (2009-2023), just a few minutes after the proclamation of the results of the ostensibly rigged presidential election. .

The country's new strongman, Brigadier General Brice Oligui Nguema, demonstrates a certain sense of political balance: he reaches out to some fallen from the old regime; it restores oxygen to an asphyxiated civil society; it brings back into play an opposition which until then had no other choice than compromise or resignation to defeats planned by a regime ready to do anything to retain prebends and power (held since 1967). But this subtle game does not conceal the omnipotence of the former commander-in-chief of the Republican Guard who became grand master of the transition clocks.

Everything is said, without artifice, from the preamble of the transition charter published on September 4 in the Official Journal of the Gabonese Republic: “We, members of the defense and security forces of the Gabonese Republic grouped within the Committee for the transition and restoration of institutions [CTRI] inspired by the desire (…) for change for the well-being and coexistence of the sovereign people of Gabon having led to the effective seizure of power by the Gabonese army (…) we approve and adopt this charter. »

This text, taken from the sleeve of General Nguema on the day of his swearing-in, takes precedence over the Constitution of March 26, 1991. Under the signature of the president of the CTRI appear those of six generals: the head of the national police, Serge Hervé Ngoma, the chief of staff of the armed forces, Jean Martin Ossima Ndong, that of the gendarmerie, Yves Barrassouaga, of prison security, Jean Germain Effayong Onong, of the military health service, Jean Raymond N'zenze, and, finally , the director general of military engineering, Gabin Oyougou. No civilians were invited.

Almost all powers

Primus inter pares, Brice Oligui Nguema grants himself almost all the powers. As president of the transition, “he fulfills the functions of head of state, minister of defense and security.” He appoints, and dismisses if necessary, the presidency of the transitional Senate and the four vice-presidencies. He chooses the fifty senators. Same pattern for the National Assembly – and its seventy deputies. He also appoints the nine members of the Transitional Constitutional Court.

It should be noted that neither the Prime Minister nor the members of the government, nor the presidents of the transitional institutions, are “eligible for the presidential election which will be organized to mark the end of the transition”. A restrictive provision from which, on the other hand, the all-powerful leader of the transition escapes, who thus refrains from insulting his political future.

Certainly, the president of the transition opened the political game to representatives of the platform of the former opposition Alternance 2023, who had presented a single candidacy against Ali Bongo Ondimba during the presidential election of August 26. She obtained the prime ministership and presidency of the Senate, for the highest positions. In the direction of civil society, among other personalities, Marc Ona Essangui, human rights activist, was propelled to the third vice-president of the Senate. Some prominent members of the former ruling party, the Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG), have not been forgotten. Among them, Jean-François Ndongou, former minister of the interior and new president of the National Assembly.

If public opinion applauded this opening towards the CEO, it understood less well the leniency granted to former leaders of the Bongo clan released from prison or from judicial control by the new prince. At the top of the list is Ali Bongo's former chief of staff, Brice Laccruche Alihanga, known as "BLA", all-powerful until his dismissal in 2019. Sentenced on October 29, 2021 to five years in prison for forgery and use of forgery, accused since 2022 of embezzlement of public funds, he was released on Monday from Libreville central prison.

Largesse

Same reservations regarding the pardon granted to one of the relatives of “BLA”, also detained in Gros-Bouquet, Renaud Allogho Akoué. The former director of the National Health Insurance and Social Guarantee Fund was arrested in 2019 as part of Operation “Scorpion”, launched to fight corruption, and also, incidentally, eliminate a few nuisances. The special criminal court sentenced him in 2022 to eight years of criminal imprisonment for “misappropriation of public property”, “suspected money laundering”, “influence peddling” and “attempted corruption”. Same reaction to the release of the former mayor of Libreville, Léandre Nzué, also close to “BLA”.

These largesse fall under the exceptional regime in force in Gabon. However, the leader of the transition refuses to be described as a putschist. On Wednesday, during one of the multiple consultations held with all components of Gabonese society, he repeated his credo and invoked heaven: “Let people take a good look at what has been done throughout the world, the coups d'état that have taken place in the world. Ours is not a coup d’état. It’s a stroke of freedom. The Gabonese people had to be freed. We carried out an action where there was no blood, where God was with us. He saved us from all this trouble. » For the moment at least.