LIBREVILLE, Sept. 7 (Xinhua) — Brice Oligui Nguema, Gabonese transitional president, has appointed Raymond Ndong Sima as interim prime minister and head of the transitional government, announced Ulrich Manfoumbi Manfoumbi, spokesperson for the Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions (CTRI), on Thursday.
TRANSITIONAL GOVERNMENT TO COME
The spokesperson broke the news on national television in a statement signed by Nguema, who was sworn in Monday as transitional president, without specifying further details. The CTRI was set up by a group of military officers after the coup a week ago, with the officers declaring the overthrow of President Ali Bongo. On Monday, Nguema promised that a new government “made up of experienced people and people with seasoned skills” would be implemented in the coming days.
Sima, 68, served as prime minister from 2012 to 2014. He ran for president in the presidential elections both in 2016 and 2023. Nguema also promised a new constitution by referendum, a new electoral code, and a reliable penal code. He pledged to “return power to civilians” and hold “free” and “transparent” elections after the transition without specifying the election date and duration of the transition.
Gabon’s leading opposition group, Alternance 2023, which claims to be the winner of the elections on Aug. 26, has called on the international community to encourage the junta to hand power back to civilians.
OUSTED PRESIDENT SET FREE
Bongo was allowed to go abroad Wednesday for medical checkups, a week after being kept under house arrest since the coup. “Given his state of health, the former President of the Republic Ali Bongo Ondimba is free to move. He can, if he wishes, go abroad to carry out his medical checks,” announced Manfoumbi late Wednesday.
On Aug. 30, a group of military officers appointed Nguema, commander-in-chief of the Gabonese Republican Guard, to head the transition after launching a coup earlier in the day following the announcement of the reelection of Bongo by the national electoral body. Nguema, 48, noted that the military took “their responsibilities” in the face of an “outrageously biased electoral process,” referring to the coup. “The defense and security forces of our country took their responsibilities by refusing the electoral coup,” he explained.
Bongo, 64, once served as minister of defense and other posts in the government. He was elected president of Gabon in 2009 and was reelected in 2016. He was put under house arrest, while some of his advisers and senior officials, including his son Noureddin Bongo Valentin, were said to have been arrested for treason, embezzlement, and corruption, among other allegations.
In response to the coup, the African Union suspended Gabon’s membership last Thursday, followed by the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), a regional bloc that Gabon is a member of, until the return to constitutional order in the country.
The ECCAS on Monday appointed President of the Central African Republic Faustin-Archange Touadera as facilitator for the democratic process in Gabon, while ordering the temporary relocation of the institution’s headquarters from Libreville, the capital of Gabon, to Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea.
“ECCAS appointed me as a facilitator (…) to draft a roadmap enabling a swift return to constitutional order, with the agreement of the interim president,” Touadera said in brief remarks on Gabonese television late Wednesday during his visit to Libreville from Tuesday to Wednesday.
“Unanimously, I think that the population appreciated the action taken by the committee, which preserved the peace and avoided a bloodbath,” assured Touadera. “But we must continue to work within the framework of this facilitation with the Transition Committee to develop a roadmap allowing a rapid return to constitutional order.”