(Update: adds AU suspending Gabon, edits headline)
Libreville/Addis Ababa, Aug 31 (EFE).- The Economic Community of Central African States on Thursday called for the restoration of constitutional order in Gabon, as the African Union suspended the country following the military coup.
ECCAS, made up of 11 countries in the region and whose current chair is ousted Gabonese President Ali Bongo, said it condemned the use of violence to resolve political conflicts and gain access to power following Wednesday’s coup.
The statement called on “the political genius of the Gabonese people” to engage in dialogue and urged the authorities to “take all measures for a speedy return to constitutional order.”
ECCAS, based in the Gabonese capital of Libreville, also announced an imminent extraordinary summit of its members’ heads of state, although it did not specify a date.
On Wednesday, a military junta announced that it had seized power in Gabon, shortly after the electoral commission declared Ali Bongo the winner of a disputed election on April 26 that the opposition called fraudulent.
The coup leaders said the polls were not transparent, credible, or inclusive, and accused the executive of governing “irresponsibly and unpredictably,” thus worsening “social cohesion.”
Late Wednesday, the coup leaders announced the appointment of General Brice Oligui Nguema, commander of the country’s Republican Guard, as the new “transitional president.”
The African Union (AU) has suspended Gabon from the pan-African organization in response to the coup.
The chairman of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, on Tuesday called the coup a “flagrant violation of the legal and political instruments” of the organization.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres echoed the condemnation, although he warned that irregularities in the electoral process gave Bongo the victory.
This is not the first coup that Ali Bongo, whose family has been in power since 1967, has faced.
A previous attempt took place in January 2019 while he was in Morocco recovering from an illness, although the revolt was crushed on that occasion.
The coup in Gabon – one of sub-Saharan Africa’s oil powers – is the second to take place on the continent just over a month after the army seized power in Niger on July 26.
Gabon has joined the list of countries with successful coups in the last three years: Mali (August 2020 and May 2021), Guinea-Conakry (September 2021), Sudan (October 2021), and Burkina Faso (January and September 2022).EFE