Amid the mayhem of the Central African Republic, new armed groups are emerging, according to reports by Human Rights Watch.

The Central African Republic (CAR) has been riven with political conflict between the Seleka rebel coalition and the government forces since 2012. The conflict is now drawing in religious and extremist groups, terrorising civilians.

To stabilise the politically and socially devastated country Gabon deployed 450 soldiers to the capital, Bangui, in 2016, within the framework of the United Nations mission in the Central African Republic, known as MINUSCA. Gabon soldiers have been active in CAR since 2003.

Gabon is small in terms of its territory, population and army (around 6,700 soldiers, according to the author’s own statistics based on information from Gabon’s defence ministry), so it relies on defence diplomacy to establish itself in the regional game of influence.…  Seguir leyendo »

«Bienvenue dans notre petite dictature tropicale !» C’est par ces mots que m’accueille un ami gabonais à Libreville en 2008. C’était le temps du crépuscule d’Omar Bongo, dont la succession était le sujet de toutes les conversations. Deux hypothèses se dessinaient autour de la mort prochaine et attendue du président au pouvoir depuis 1967 : le changement dans la continuité, c’est-à-dire la transition sous contrôle en faveur de son fils Ali et du clan familial, ou le bouleversement, c’est-à-dire la fin brutale du «système Bongo».

Le 8 juin 2009, Omar mourrait et son fils entrait en campagne sous la bannière «Ali’ 09».…  Seguir leyendo »

Gabon’s model of political moderation and gradualist reform may have just imploded. Without external mediation, a full audit of polling station results and a hitherto absent readiness to compromise on the part of President Ali Bongo Ondimba and his main challenger, Jean Ping, the country risks being condemned to months or even years of unstable and sullen post-election stalemate.

Mild though the crisis appears by the standards of more authoritarian or conflict-torn neighbours, it is disastrously damaging for Bongo’s long-held ambition of transforming himself from dynastic heir into freely-elected architect of modernization and reform. After seven years trying to mark his country out from the fiefdoms of central Africa’s strongmen, he now risks cantoning himself into the category of presidents whose hold on office depends on power rather than consent.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Saturday, Aug. 27, presidential elections were held in my country, Gabon, in West Africa, and I was the candidate who won by a substantial vote margin. Nearly a week later, I would have expected to be addressing the world as Gabon’s president-elect, ready and willing to work with the United States and all our international partners to fight terrorism, build our economies and improve the lives of our citizens through increased development and cooperation.

Instead, I am hoping that the American people, and all others who care about democracy, will help my country through a crisis for our democracy. I’m in Gabon where the current president, Ali Bongo Ondimba, is using our national security forces — armed with valuable military weaponry provided by the United States to fight terrorism — against our own people.…  Seguir leyendo »

Como en la obra maestra de Clint Eastwood, es posible que el Gran Torino del recientemente fallecido Omar Bongo Odimba, la propia presidencia de la República, no sea para sus hijos. Con la muerte del presidente del Gabón en Barcelona después de 42 años en el poder, se abre una perspectiva histórica para la transición democrática del país que puede servir de modelo para el resto del África Subsahariana. El cambio es necesario, pero existe el riesgo de que el régimen establecido manipule el proceso electoral a su favor. Por ello, Europa debe estar allí para garantizar la transparencia de las próximas elecciones y evitar que se repitan las oportunidades perdidas de Togo o Costa de Marfil.…  Seguir leyendo »