Gabon: The End of a Dictatorship and the Beginning of Another?

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  • Opinion by Ines M Pousadela (montevideo, uruguay)
  • Inter Press Service

A predatory autocracy

Omar Bongo gained power in 1967 and kept it for more than 40 years. He only started allowing multi-party competition in 1991, after making sure his ironically named Gabonese Democratic Party would retain its grip through a combination of patronage and repression.

His son and successor retained the dynasty’s power with elections plagued by irregularities in 2009 and 2016. Both The constitution was repeatedly amended to allow further terms and electoral rules and timetables were systematically manipulated.

In 2016, blatant fraud sparked violent protests that were even more violently repressed. Bon But a 2019 attempted military coup failed and was followed by a media crackdown, arrests of opposition politicians and a hardening of the Penal Code to criminalise dissent.

Under the Bongos’ dynastic reign, corruption, nepotism and predatory elite behaviour were rampant. Gab The Upon seizing power, the self-appointed ‘Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions’ announced the annulment of the vote and the dissolution of executive, legislative, judicial and electoral institutions.

Bongo was placed under house arrest along with his eldest son and advisor before being released and allowed to leave the country on medical grounds. Many He He First a new constitution will have to be drafted, along with a new criminal code and electoral legislation.

But while celebrations broke out in the streets, the international condemnation was swift, starting with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. The African Union suspended Gabon until constitutional order is restored, as did the Economic Community of Central African States.

Condemnation came from the European Union and several of its member states, and the Commonwealth, which Gabon was allowed to join in June 2022 despite not complying with minimum democracy and human rights standards. Bol Tin Many Albert He He Some of the new government appointments appear to confirm Ossa’s suspicions.

Beyond its composition, there’s the key question of how long this government intends to last. The This The The The Otherwise, the danger is that the Gabonese people will merely move from one dictatorship to another, and nothing will remain of that fleeting moment when freedom seemed within reach.

Ines M. Pousadela

is CIVICUS Senior Research Specialist, co-director and writer for CIVICUS Lens and co-author of the State of Civil Society Report.

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Original source: Inter Press Service

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