ECCAS suspends Gabon’s membership after coup

The Commission of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) bloc suspended Gabon’s membership Monday following last week’s military coup.

Leaders of the regional bloc announced the decision after an extraordinary summit in neighboring Equatorial Guinea was convened to discuss the political and security situation in Gabon.

Heads of state and government “condemned the use of force to resolve political conflicts in Gabon and suspended the country from proceedings,” Angolan Foreign Minister Tete Antonio told reporters after the meeting.

The leaders also ordered the immediate temporary transfer of ECCAS headquarters from the Gabonese capital Libreville to Equatorial Guinea’s capital Malabo and “gave a deadline of one year to the transition to organize elections.”

In February, ousted President Ali Bongo had assumed the one-year rotating chairmanship of the bloc.

The summit sought to provide the organization with leadership in order to avoid a legal vacuum which could stall their activities following the coup.

At Monday’s summit, Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who served as the vice chairperson, assumed the bloc’s chair.

Nguema Mbasogo called on the international and regional community to “support the Gabonese people at this difficult time, to return to constitutional order and the functioning of all the organs of the country.”

The summit was attended by presidents Nguema Mbasogo, Denis Sassou Nguesso of the Republic of Congo, Joao Lourenco of Angola and Faustin-Archange Touadera of the Central African Republic as well as Sao Tome and Principe Prime Minister Patrice Trovoada and the representative of Cameroonian President Paul Biya.

A group of senior Gabonese army officers appeared on national television last Wednesday and announced that they had seized power and put Bongo under house arrest.

The move came shortly after the Gabonese Election Center confirmed that incumbent President Bongo had officially won a third term as president with 64.27% of the vote.

Gen. Brice Oligui Nguema, former commander of the Republican Guard, was on Monday sworn in as Gabon’s transitional president.

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