In front of the ambassadors of France gathered in Paris, the head of government listed several recent crises with which French diplomacy has been confronted, “and now the situation in Gabon which we are following with the greatest attention”. Neither the Élysée nor the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have reacted for the moment.
On Wednesday, the Gabonese authorities had just announced the re-election of Ali Bongo with 64.27% of the vote when a group of a dozen soldiers appeared on the screens of the Gabon 24 television channel to announce, “put an end to existing regime”. Ali Bongo was elected in 2009 after the death of his father Omar Bongo Ondimba, who had ruled Gabon for more than 41 years.
A long-awaited reaction from Paris
Omar Bongo was one of France’s closest allies in the post-colonial era and Ali is a regular in Paris, where his family has an extensive property portfolio that is under investigation by magistrates anti Corruption.
Emmanuel Macron went to Gabon last March for the Forest Summit, a visit perceived by some opposition figures as support for Bongo before the presidential election. During a speech in Libreville, the French president, however, denied any ambition to intervene in Africa, saying that the era of interference was “over”.
Paris’s reaction is eagerly awaited when, following the coup d’état in Niger on July 26, it refused to recognize the military regime and promised to support the countries of the West African Economic Community. (ECOWAS), some of whose members support military action against the putschists.
On Monday, Emmanuel Macron spoke of the “epidemic” of coups in the French-speaking region of Africa, defending his policy of firmness towards the military in Niger. The head of French diplomacy, Catherine Colonna, had estimated at the beginning of August that it was a “coup d’etat too many”.
Faced with growing anti-French sentiment in the Sahel in particular, with the departure of soldiers from Mali and Burkina, France had launched a reorganization of its presence on the continent, the objective being to significantly reduce the number of its prepositioned military forces. . In Gabon, around 400 soldiers are still deployed permanently, some of them in the capital Libreville, according to the Ministry of the Armed Forces.
Mélenchon accuses Macron of having “compromised” France
Faced with the situation, Jean-Luc Mélenchon affirms in a message on X (ex-Twitter) that “no alert will have been heard”. “Now, Gabon has only been able to get rid of its presidential puppet through the intervention of its military”, he added, believing that “Macron will, once again, have compromised France in supporting until at the end of the unbearable. The Africans are turning the page”.
No alert will have been heard.
Now, Gabon has only been able to get rid of its presidential puppet through the intervention of its military. Macron will, once again, have compromised France in supporting the unbearable until the end. Africans turn the…
— Jean-Luc Melenchon (@JLMelenchon) August 30, 2023
Soldiers announced Wednesday to “end the regime in place” in Gabon, where the official results of the presidential election on Saturday had just confirmed the victory of President Ali Bongo. France is following the situation in Gabon “with the greatest attention”, declared Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, while the Élysée and the Quai d’Orsay refrain from commenting.
Emmanuel Macron went to Gabon last March to participate in a summit on the protection of tropical forests, and had dinner with his counterpart Ali Bongo. The opposition had accused him of “doubting” through his visit the president, already elected under controversial conditions in 2016.
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