Gabon: another coup in a former French colony
The military has seized power in the Central African nation of Gabon. The coup leaders justified the move saying that elections held four days ago in which President Ali Bongo Ondimba, who has been in power since 2009, was declared the winner, were not "credible" and that the opposition was being suppressed. This is the latest in a series of coups in states that are former French colonies. Europe’s press discusses similarities and differences.
A second decolonization
“Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and now Gabon form a new group of African countries distancing themselves from Europe and adopting a hostile attitude, particularly towards France. One can speak of a second decolonization, as that of the last century was contaminated by a neo-colonial presence that was too intrusive. ... During these decades, there has been no real transformation of the African economy, but rather an ‘extractive’ exploitation of resources that left the continent with very little. Moreover, the West is accused of supporting corrupt and undemocratic governments despite the values it claims to uphold.”
An understandable coup
This is the most comprehensible of the series of coups in Africa over the past three years, writes the taz:
“in Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, and most recently Niger, freely elected presidents have been ousted by their armies, with more or less dubious justifications. In Gabon, the ruler of the most powerful and wealthiest family in the country, if not in all of Central Africa, has now been removed from power after his family governed the country for 56 years. The Bongo clan is a central pillar of the corrupt neocolonial French-African web of interests against which disaffected youths are taking to the streets across the former colonial empire. Its downfall is not just a coup against a president, but against a system.”
Is Putin behind this one too?
The coup in Gabon is another blow for France, analyses Večernji list:
“As in Niger, France has a mining company in Gabon called Eramet which has announced that it is shutting down its operations in Gabon after the latest developments. ... Eramet operates the only manganese production plant in the country and employs around 8,000 people there. ... Analysts are convinced that, after Niger, this coup is another serious blow for France, which had been making a veritable fortune on the ores it received from these countries. Although the situation is still unclear, no one would be surprised if it turns out that, as in Niger, the coup bears the signature of Vladimir Putin, who has transferred the conflicts with the US and the EU to Africa.”
Governments could also simply resign
The wave of coups in Africa has primarily demographic causes, explains La Croix:
“Numerous governments are at risk of being ousted from power on the African continent. This wave of coups is being largely attributed to the discontent of young populations who lack prospects for the future. In this context, those in power must show a sense of responsibility and trust in democratic mechanisms. Stability, transparency and continuity of institutions are necessary to ensure development. A change of government is preferable to a coup.”
Muted reaction from Paris this time
Tygodnik Powszechny examines France’s reaction:
“Mali, Niger, Chad, and Gabon, along with Ivory Coast and Senegal, were among France’s key allies in Africa. When a coup occurred in Chad, France decided to turn a blind eye to it. But, it reacted with great indignation to the coups in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger, which turned the coup plotters, who had received their war training at French academies and training centres, against it. ... The French have now reacted very cautiously to the news of the coup in Gabon, clearly having learned from their painful experiences in the Sahel.”