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Gabon Coup Ignites Debate on Central Africa’s Lengthy Serving Leaders 

The obvious army coup in Gabon Wednesday is elevating concern about the way forward for international locations within the Central African financial bloc CEMAC, which has among the world’s longest serving leaders.

A number of dozen youths, a majority of them college students from the College of Yaounde, watch attentively as troopers declare on Gabonese TV that the army, united in a transitional committee, is placing an finish to the management of President Ali Bongo.

Folks have fun in assist of the coup leaders in a road of Port-Gentil, Gabon Aug. 30, 2023.

The 64-year-old Bongo has dominated Gabon, an oil-producing nation, since succeeding his father Omar Bongo, who died in 2009 after 42 years in energy.

Gabon held elections on August 26 with Ali Bongo working for re-election. However contested outcomes point out 69-year-old Albert Ondo Ossa, a former minister and college professor, received the ballot. Ondo mentioned Ali Bongo needed to steal his victory.

Anong Jacob, a secondary faculty trainer in Yaounde, says post-election confusion in Gabon has given the army a chance to grab energy, claiming that they need freedom for civilians, identical to the militaries of Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali.

“It’s a shared feeling with these in Niger who’re considering for the time being that the time is now or by no means. They’ve all of the sources, gold, diamond, timber and all of that, however we haven’t any of the industries or factories that may course of these supplies, all are transported to the West and we’ve got little or nothing to learn from it,” he mentioned.

Gabon is a member of the Central African Financial and Financial Neighborhood, CEMAC, an financial bloc that has among the world’s longest serving leaders.

Eighty-one-year-old President Teodora Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea received elections for a sixth time period in 2022. Obiang got here to energy in a 1979 army coup and is the world’s longest-serving head of state.

FILE - President Denis Sassou Nguesso arrives for a visit at The Elysee Palace in Paris, Sept. 3, 2019.

FILE – President Denis Sassou Nguesso arrives for a go to at The Elysee Palace in Paris, Sept. 3, 2019.

Within the Republic of Congo, 80-year-old Denis Sassou Nguesso has been president for all however 5 of the final 44 years.

And in Cameroon, 90-year-old Paul Biya has been the president for 41 years, since 1982.

Central African Republic President Faustin Archange Touadera hasn’t been round as lengthy however lately prolonged the presidential time period from 5 to seven years and did away with the two-term restrict for presidents. The C.A.R. opposition says Touadera created a life presidency for himself.

Langeh Ngah Derick, lecturer on the Worldwide Relations Institute of Cameroon, says these leaders’ need to hold onto energy is inflicting systematic issues and widespread frustration.

“One thing needs to be accomplished particularly in French tropical Africa, ex-French colonies, significantly the place egoistic curiosity frustrates many of the youths,” he mentioned. “You come out from the college, insurance policies don’t favor your integration into the system and to assist construct your nation particularly in a few of these Francophone African international locations.”

Ngah mentioned if the opposition in French-speaking central African international locations stays fragmented and leaders hold their robust grip on energy, the pattern of militaries taking energy — as occurred in Gabon Wednesday — could unfold even additional.

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