Ali Bongo Critic Named Interim PM In Post-Coup Gabon

Gabon’s President Ali Bongo Ondimba listens to French President Emmanuel Macron (not seen) during a bilateral meeting at Presidential Palace in Libreville, on March 1, 2023. Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba, who has been in office for 14 years, announced on Sunday that he would run for a third term in the presidential election on 26 August. (Photo by LUDOVIC MARIN / AFP) / NO USE AFTER AUGUST 8, 2023 14:36:00 GMT

Gabon’s military rulers named Raymond Ndong Sima, a strong opponent of deposed president Ali Bongo Ondimba, as interim prime minister on Thursday, according to state television.

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Ndong Sima, 68, was Bongo’s prime minister from 2012 to 2014 before becoming a critic and eventually opposing him in elections in 2016 and 2023.

His appointment was made in a decree issued by General Brice Oligui Nguema, the new strongman who was sworn in as interim president on Monday following the coup.

In his inauguration speech, Oligui vowed to hold “free, transparent and credible elections” to restore civilian rule, although he did not give a timeframe.

He also said he would shortly announce an inclusive transitional government drawing on figures from across the political spectrum.

Bongo, 64, took office in 2009 on the death of his father Omar, who ruled the central African state with an iron fist for more than 40 years, gaining a reputation as a kleptocrat.

He was re-elected by a wafer-thin margin in 2016, according to bitterly disputed official results, but two years later suffered a stroke that weakened his grip on power.

On August 30, soldiers led by Oligui, head of the elite Republic Guard, detained Bongo, his wife and son shortly after election overseers declared him victor in a presidential ballot four days earlier.

Post-coup developments in Gabon are being anxiously followed in central Africa and beyond.

The oil-rich state joins Mali, Guinea, Sudan, Burkina Faso and Niger among African countries that have undergone coups in the last three years.

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