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Friday, July 19, 2024

US Halts Foreign Assistance to Gabon After August 30 Coup

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The United States is pausing certain foreign assistance programmes to the government of Gabon following last month’s coup, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement released by the Department of State on Tuesday.

The pause would continue while “[we] evaluate the unconstitutional intervention by members of the country’s military”, Blinken said, adding that the move is in line with steps taken by the Economic Community of Central African States and the African Union.

The US will nevertheless continue operational activities in the country, including diplomatic and consular operations supporting US citizens.

Army officers in Gabon seized power on August 30, annulling an election minutes after an announcement that President Ali Bongo had won, which they said was not credible. Bongo had been in power since 2009.

The new military government has promised to oversee free and fair elections but has not given a precise timetable for organising them.

A 24-month transition to elections in Gabon would be “reasonable” after last month’s coup, the military-appointed Prime Minister Raymond Ndong Sima was quoted as saying by French news agency AFP earlier this month.

The Bongo family’s dynastic rule in the Central African oil producer had created widespread discontent, with critics saying the Bongos did little to share Gabon’s wealth with its 2.3 million people.

The coup was greeted with scenes of jubilation in the capital, Libreville, and the military government moved quickly to consolidate power, swearing in General Brice Oligui Nguema, head of an elite squad and cousin to Bongo, as interim president.

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