Gabon: UN, Commonwealth, others condemn coup, Tinubu warns of spread
President Bola Tinubu has expressed concern over the rising cases of coups in African countries, calling for a comprehensive consensus against the spread of “contagious autocracy” across the continent.
The President said he was committed to working with other African leaders to defend democracy on the continent.
Tinubu stated this in his first response to the Wednesday morning coup in Gabon, just as the United States, United Nations, European Union, France and the Commonwealth voiced concerns over the political development in the Central African country.
The military takeover in Gabon is coming one month after a similar incident happened in Niger where Presidential Guards overthrew the democratically elected President, Mohamed Bazoum.
A dozen soldiers had appeared on Gabonese national television, announcing the cancellation of election results said to have been won by incumbent Ondimba Ali Bongo and the dissolution of “all the institutions of the republic.”
The mutineers led by the head of the republican guards, Gen Brice Nguema , also closed the borders until further notice.
The announcement came after President Ali Bongo, 64, was re-elected for a third term, extending his family’s half-century rule over the oil-rich Central African country of 2.3 million, but the opposition described the poll as a ‘fraud orchestrated’ by the ruling party.
The Bongo family, one of Africa’s most powerful dynasties, has been in power since 1967.
Bongo is the son of late President Omar Bongo, who ruled Gabon for almost 42 years, from 1967 until his death in 2009.
However, speaking on the situation in Gabon, Tinubu said he was watching closely with deep concern the country’s social-political stability and at the seeming “contagious autocracy” apparently spreading across different regions of the continent.
A statement by the Presidential spokesperson, Ajuri Ngelale, explained that Tinubu was of the unwavering belief that power belongs in the hands of Africa’s great people and not in the barrel of a loaded gun.
It read, “President Bola Tinubu is watching closely with deep concern for the country’s socio-political stability and at the seeming autocratic contention apparently spreading across different regions of our beloved continent.
Tinubu promises democracy
“The President as a man who has made significant, personal sacrifices in his own life in the course of advancing and defending democracy is of the unwavering belief that power belongs in the hands of Africa’s great people and not in the barrel of a loaded gun.
“The President affirms that the rule of law and a faithful recourse to the constitutional resolutions and instruments of electoral dispute resolution must not at any time be allowed to perish from our great continent.’’
Tinubu, who is leading ECOWAS’ efforts to reverse the coup in Niger, further assured that he was in touch with other African leaders towards resolving the political crisis in Gabon.
“To this end, the President is working very closely and continues to communicate with other Heads of State in the African Union towards a comprehensive consensus on the next steps forward with respect to how the power in Gabon will play out and how the continent will respond to contagious autocracy we have seen spread across our continent,’’ the statement added.
Briefing journalists at a press conference at the State House, Abuja, Ngelale said the President “affirmed that the rule of law and a faithful recourse to the constitutional resolutions and instruments of electoral dispute resolution must not at any time be allowed to perish from our great continent.”
Tinubu, he said, was deeply concerned about the spread of autocracy in Africa.
He added that Tinubu urged African leaders to uphold democratic values, adding that the president was consulting with the AU leaders on how best to address the “contagious autocracy” spreading across Africa.
“To this end, the President is working very closely and continues to communicate with other Heads of State in the African Union towards a comprehensive consensus on the next steps forward with respect to how the power in Gabon will play out and how the continent will respond to contagious autocracy we have seen spread across our continent,” he stated.
Ngelale added that Tinubu had “substantive extended discussions” with the Canadian Prime Minister, Justine Trudeau, on issues related to the crisis in the Niger Republic and the unfolding situation in Gabon.
Giving details of the telephone conversation between the two leaders, the President aide noted, “The two heads of state mutually agreed that the promotion and protection of constitutional democratic governance on the continent remains a paranoid priority and that the people of Africa living in the diaspora around the world making a huge impact on the social and political landscapes of countries around the world and the economies of countries around the world continue to urge on the global community to advance the course of democracy on the continent for the sake of the economic prosperity of all Africans.
“So, it is of utmost importance to understand that President Bola Tinubu would continue to engage with Heads of State not just only in the African Union but also around [the] world and those communications and engagements are ongoing.”
Ngelari explained that the two leaders’ discussion centred on the need for the promotion and protection of constitutional democratic governance on the continent.
While the conversation lasted, both leaders were said to have emphatically insisted that democratic governance remain a paramount priority.
Meanwhile, the US and EU have expressed worries over the unfolding situation in Gabon.
Describing the development in Gabon as concerning, the US Government said it would continue to monitor the situation closely.