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Reaction to Gabon military officers' declaration of coup

Gabonese military officers announce they have seized power

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Military officers in oil-producing Gabon said on Wednesday that they had seized power and placed President Ali Bongo under house arrest. If successful, the coup would be the eighth in West and Central Africa since 2020.

Below is reaction from analysts:

RUKMINI SANYAL, MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA ANALYST, ECONOMIST INTELLIGENCE UNIT

"We deem the latest polls to not have been held in a free or fair manner, as evidenced by the suspension of several foreign broadcasts, absence of international observers, and internet service cuts, and for the local population's perception of the coup to be largely positive.

"The rebellious soldiers ... will likely introduce a roadmap for a return of elections and civilian rule, but we believe that the timetable for this will be extended and that the military will rule the country throughout the 2023-27 forecast period.

"The risk of economic sanctions being imposed on the oil-exporting country remains low."

MAJA BOVCON, SENIOR AFRICA ANALYST, RISK INTELLIGENCE COMPANY VERISK MAPLECROFT

"The inspiration for the coup likely came from the Sahel, where we have witnessed a spate of coups over the past three years. The military junta also draws legitimacy from the electoral process, which was practically conducted behind closed doors.

"In the case of Gabon, the military can also count on popular support and that of the opposition. The military is unlikely to transfer power to the joint opposition leader Albert Ondo Ossa, who claims to have won the election.

"Based on other coups in the region, we can likely expect a prolonged transition period."

FRANCOIS CONRADIE, LEAD POLITICAL ECONOMIST, OXFORD ECONOMICS AFRICA

"I see very little chance of the coup failing ... of there being any meaningful pressure on the coup leaders to reinstate Bongo. His claimed election win was very obviously fraudulent, and the fix had been in preparation for some time.

"The important thing to watch now is the reaction within Cemac (Central African Economic and Monetary Community), where Gabon is an important country... I expect there will be some sanctions but limited ones, given how popular the coup is for the moment.

"I think that the new team will be less radical in its difference from the status quo than many of the coup cheerers today think – especially because of how important (French oil giant) TotalEnergies is to government revenue and the economy at several levels."

CHARLIE ROBERTSON, HEAD OF MACRO STRATEGY, FIM PARTNERS

"Gabon's coup is strikingly different because it's in a high literacy country, which is relatively wealthy in per capita GDP terms.

"The best case scenario is that this coup really is driven by frustration with a flawed election and a desire to allow the people a chance to vote in a free and fair election.

"The African Union needs to step up and take some responsibility for what's happening on the continent, before the coup contagion spreads further."

(Reporting by Libby George in London, Hereward Holland in Nairobi and Bhargav Acharya in Johannesburg; Editing by Alexander Winning and Nick Macfie)