Bongo critic appointed as interim prime minister in post-coup Gabon

Gabon’s military authorities announced on state TV on Thursday that they have designated Raymond Ndong Sima, a well-known adversary of the deposed president Ali Bongo Ondimba, as the interim prime minister in the wake of the country’s coup on August 30.

Ndong Sima, a 68-year-old economist, previously held the position of prime minister under Bongo’s administration from 2012 to 2014. However, he later transitioned into a critic of the regime and eventually contested Bongo in the elections of both 2016 and 2023.

His appointment was officially decreed by the newly established leader, General Brice Oligui Nguema, who was inaugurated as the interim president on Monday following the coup.

During his inaugural address, Oligui pledged to conduct “free, transparent, and credible elections” to reinstate civilian governance, although he refrained from specifying a timetable for this process.

He additionally expressed his intention to promptly unveil an inclusive transitional government, incorporating individuals from diverse political backgrounds.

Bongo, aged 64, assumed the presidency in 2009 following the passing of his father, Omar, who had governed the central African nation with authoritarian control for over four decades, earning a reputation as a kleptocrat.

He secured his re-election by an extremely narrow margin in 2016, as per contentious official results, but his hold on power was subsequently weakened after suffering a stroke in the following two years.

On August 30, soldiers, under the command of Oligui, who led the elite Republic Guard, apprehended Bongo along with his wife and son shortly after election officials had declared him the winner of the presidential election just four days prior.

Developments in Gabon following the coup are being closely monitored with concern not only in Central Africa but also around the world.

This oil-rich nation now joins a list of African countries, including Mali, Guinea, Sudan, Burkina Faso, and Niger, that have experienced coups within the past three years.

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