Gabon: As Coup Fever Spreads, What Are the Implications?

Gabon appears to be the latest African country to suffer a coup, but what could be the implications of the military takeover of government?

Development Diaries reports that military officers announced on Wednesday that they had seized power in the Central African country.

It is understood that the soldiers, who introduced themselves as members of the Committee of Transition and Restoration of Institutions (CTRI), said they were annulling the results of Saturday’s election, in which President Ali Bongo was declared the winner.

‘We have decided to defend peace by putting an end to the regime in power’, they were heard saying in a broadcast.

The coup in Gabon comes after a series of coups in Africa in the past three years.

Recall there had been an unsuccessful coup in the country in January 2019. This year’s coup shows a growing frustration with a government that was heightened by the outcome of the recent election.

Due to long-standing discontent among the roughly 2.5 million citizens, there were worries about post-election violence.

Note that the Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG) has dominated the political landscape for 55 years.

What effects do coups have on African democracies?

Research has shown that coups can limit growth, reverse democratic gains, and escalate state violence. They may also aggravate economic difficulties and create unrest on the political front.

A number of factors, including modernisation, cultural pluralism, soldiers’ greed and grievances, poor governance, corruption, tyranny, constrained economic growth, and low income levels, have been cited as causes of coups in Africa.

The African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) observed in 2014 that ‘deficiencies in governance’ were the root cause of unconstitutional changes to government.

Greed, selfishness, poor diversity management, missed opportunities, marginalisation, abuse of human rights, refusal to concede an election loss, manipulation of constitutions and their revision through illegal means to serve particular interests, and corruption are all major factors in unconstitutional changes of governments and popular uprisings.

Despite natural resources and a high GDP ($8,017 in 2021), social indicators remain poor in Gabon, with poverty estimated at 33.4 percent and unemployment estimated at 28.8 percent in 2021, according to estimates from the Africa Development Bank (AfDB).

Oil profits have long supported the economy of Gabon, but the majority of these profits flowed to a wealthy elite while the majority of the two million people there live in abject poverty.

Furthermore, figures from the World Bank show that nearly 40 percent of Gabonese aged 15 to 24 were out of work in 2020.

Development Diaries condemns the coup in Gabon and the bad leadership that has led to a series of coups in Africa. We therefore call on African leaders to commit to working towards meeting the prosperity needs of citizens.

Photo source: AFP


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