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Gabon, region agree to draft 'roadmap' for return to democracy

In this photo taken Monday, Jan. 7, 2019, people walk as in the background the Gabonese Army patrol the street during a failed coup attempt in Libreville, Gabon   -  
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Massassa Bunny Claude/Copyright 2019 The AP. All rights reserved.


Central Africa's mediator for Gabon and the country's new military ruler have agreed to draw up a "roadmap" for restoring democratic rule following a coup last week, a regime official said.

General Brice Oligui Nguema was sworn in on Monday as interim president after spearheading a coup on August 30 that ended a half-century of rule by the Bongo family.

The oil-rich states joins Mali, Guinea, Sudan, Burkina Faso and Niger among African countries that have undergone coups in the last three years -- a trend that has sounded alarm bells in the continent and beyond.

The Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) on Tuesday sent its envoy, Central African Republic President Faustin Archange Touadera, to Libreville for talks with Oligui.

"ECCAS appointed me as a facilitator... to draft a roadmap enabling a swift return to constitutional order, with the agreement of the interim president,” Touadera said in brief remarks on Gabonese television late Wednesday.

A senior official in Oligui's entourage confirmed that the pair had merely agreed at this stage to drawing up the blueprint.

Neither Touadera nor the official gave details about the plan or a timeline.

The August 30 coup was supported by the army, the police, much of the political opposition and some within the party of ousted president Ali Bongo Ondimba.

He was detained by soldiers moments after he was declared victor of a presidential election tarnished by allegations of fraud.

The putsch was also supported by many Gabonese civilians tired of the corruption-tainted Bongo dynasty’s grip on the tiny country, whose oil wealth has made it one of the richest in Africa but where a third of the population lives in poverty.

Bongo had been president for 14 years. He succeeded his father Omar, who ruled the country for 41 years, gaining a reputation for kleptocracy and iron-fisted rule.

Oligui promised on Monday to hold "free, transparent and credible elections" to restore civilian rule but did not give a timeframe.

The 11-nation EECCA subsequently suspended Gabon and ordered the immediate transfer of its headquarters from the Gabon to Equatorial Guinea, according to Equatorial Guinea's vice president, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue.

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