Who is Gabon’s new leader General Brice Oligui Nguema?

In the aftermath of what seems to be the removal of President Ali Bongo, Gabon’s military junta designated General Brice Oligui Nguema as the transitional leader on Wednesday.

Below are some facts about Gabon’s new leader.


Nguema hails from Gabon’s southeasternmost province of Haut-Ogooue, which shares a border with the Republic of Congo. Interestingly, President Ali Bongo also originates from the same region of the country.

Military history

In October 2019, he took over the role of the head of Gabon’s Republican Guard, succeeding Bongo’s step-brother. This elite unit is responsible for safeguarding the president, his family, and other prominent individuals.

Anticorruption mandate

Shortly after assuming his new position in 2019, Nguema initiated an operation called “clean hands” aimed at addressing purported cases of government-associated embezzlement.

US properties

Nguema was implicated in a 2020 probe conducted by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), a worldwide network of investigative journalists. The investigation alleged that certain individuals from the Bongo family and their close associates acquired high-value real estate in the United States using significant amounts of cash. The Bongo family has governed resource-rich Gabon for more than fifty years.

Reason for the coup

Although Nguema has not personally issued any statements, he was one of the officers who initially declared the coup. The faction, identified as the Committee of Transition and the Restoration of Institutions, contended that the election held on August 26 lacked credibility, asserting that Gabon confronted a “severe institutional, political, economic, and social crisis.”

Speaking to the French newspaper Le Monde on Wednesday, Nguema acknowledged the disillusionment of Gabonese citizens with their government. He highlighted Bongo’s compromised health subsequent to a stroke in 2018 and contended that the president’s bid for a third term violated the constitution.

“Everyone talks about this but no one takes responsibility,” he said. “So the army decided to turn the page.”

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