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Libreville Sneezes, Yaounde & Kigali Catch a Cold as Biya, Kagame Reshuffle Military in Wake of Coup in Gabon

By August 31, 2023No Comments
Desperate Ali Bongo cries for help after military topple his government following a flawed election

A coup d’état in the tiny Central African nation of Gabon seems to have sparked fear within two of Africa’s long serving leaders.

In Cameroon, President Paul Biya, 90, and in power for forty of those years decided to bring in fresh faces to strategic positions in the military.

The President appointed a total of 32 top ranking military officers in an August 30 decree-deploying some to both the air force and Navy and placing others at the Central services of the ministry of Defense and others still under the direct supervision of the Ministry of Defense.

No reasons were given for the changes, but tweeter users have been quick to interpret it as an act of fear.

@Spotlight_Abby wrote “Paul Biya, unfortunately for you, you cannot even run not to talk of hide.”

@n6oflife6 explained further: “Paul Biya… Why are you scared. Gabon rattled your feathers abi? Old criminal. You go soon collect. Dey Play,” a reference to the possibility of a coup in Cameroon. And another tweeter user who identifies as Sainted-Angel adds that “reshuffling the military at this time makes it worse, now I’m almost certain a coup will happen.”

Over in Rwanda, Paul Kagame sent several RDF generals on retirement, including senior presidential advisor on security matters, James Kabarebe.

The senior military officers also include Fred Ibingira, Charles Kayonga, Frank Mushyo Kamanzi, Martin Nzaramba, Eric Murokore, Augustin Turagara, Charles Karamba, Albert Murasira, Chris Murari, Didace Ndahiro, and Emmanuel Ndahiro.

The coup in Gabon was the latest in a series of military coups that have seen democratically elected leaders removed from Power: Niger Republic, Mali, Sudan, Burkina Faso, and Guinea-Bissau have all witnessed coup d’états. Since 2020, there have been eight coups d’états in West and central Africa.

This could partly explain Biya and Kagame’s have moved to make changes to their militaries, even if none of the leaders explained why the changes were necessary.

The Gabon Coup

The August 30 coup in Gabon came within hours of the declaration of Ali Bongo Ondimba as the winner of the August 26 presidential. Soldiers of the presidential guard appeared on National TV and declared that Bongo had been held under house arrest, and that his son, Nouredine and other top government officials had been arrested on charges of high treason, corruption, impersonation, etc…

General Brice Oligui Nguema who was the head of the very powerful Republican Guard has been appointed President of the Transitional Committee. He has pledged to restore internet services which were cut by the Bongo government following his electoral win. Night travel however remains banned as a 6pm-6am curfew must be observed.

The New Man at The Helm

General Nguema was installed head of the Republican Guard of Gabon in April 2020.He is the son of a soldier. He was trained at the Royal Military Academy of Meknes in Morocco and quickly rose through the ranks and became one of the aides-de-camp to Omar Bongo Ondimba-Ali Bongo’s father and would remain so until Omar Bongo’s his death in June 2009.

When Ali Bongo came to power, Brice Clotaire Oligui Nguema was deployed in the country’s diplomatic missions for ten years-serving as military attaché at the Gabonese embassy in Morocco and later deployed to Senegal in a similar capacity.

In 2018, however, he was called back to replace col. Frédéric Bongo at the head of the intelligence Service unit of the Republican Guard- the General Directorate of Special Services (DGSS).

Six months later, Brice Clotaire Oligui Nguema was made the head of the Republican Guard where he replaced General Grégoire Kouna.

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