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Gabon Coup: France, EU's top diplomat react

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne gives the closing speech at the annual conference of ambassadors in Paris on August 30, 2023.   -  
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As events in Gabon suggest the end of Ali Bongo's 14-year rule, Libreville's partners have started to react.

French PM Elizabeth Borne said her country was closely following the situation as she spoke to French ambassadors gathered in Paris, Wednesday (Aug. 29).

"Once again, over the course of this year, you have been present as usual, and the action of the French diplomatic network has been marked by the response to several major crises including that the war in Ukraine and the coup d'état in Niger. Now, there is the situation in Gabon, that we are watching closely. "

A group of military officers appeared on television early Wednesday announcing they were scrapping official election results that had handed another term to veteran President Ali Bongo Ondimba.

The EU's top diplomat Josep Borrell spokes to reporters on Wednesday morning: "Well, the news [reports] are confused. I got the news this morning early. If this is confirmed then this is another military coup which increases instability in the whole region. I cannot say more because I don't have any more information. But certainly it is an issue that will be put on the table when we will discuss."

Relatively stable untill now

Ali Bongo was first elected in 2009 following the death of his father, Omar Bongo Ondimba, who had ruled the country for 41 years.

Unlike Niger and two other West African countries run by military juntas, Gabon hasn’t been wracked by jihadi violence and had been seen as relatively stable.

This new turn of events could prompt the EU to come up with a new Africa strategy: "The whole area; starting with the Central African Republic, then Mali, then Burkina Faso, now Niger, maybe Gabon, it is in a very difficult situation," Josep Borrell observed.

"Certainly the ministers, today the defence ministers, tomorrow foreign ministers, have to have a deep thought on what is going on there and how we can improve our policy in respect to these countries. This is a big issue for Europe."

"We call on all sides in Gabon to proceed from the basic interests of the country and the people, resolve differences through dialogue, (and) restore normal order as soon as possible," said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin.

President Bongo is reportedly under house arrest with his family and doctors. 

He suffered a stroke in 2018 and spent over 9 months recovering.  During his recovery abroad, a coup attempt failed.

Bongo's son, Noureddin Bongo Valentin, among other people was arrested for charges including embezzlement of public funds and drug trafficking.

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