IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

Coup in Gabon Following Disputed Elections

1st September, 2023 Geography

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A recent political development in the oil-rich central African country of Gabon.


  • Rebel officers in Gabon seize power following disputed elections in which President Ali Bongo Ondimba was declared the victor.
  • President Ali Bongo was placed under house arrest, and one of his sons arrested for treason by the coup leaders.

Coup Announcement and Institutional Dissolution

  • Officers declare dissolution of all republic institutions, cancellation of election results, and closure of borders.
  • Officers cite a serious crisis in institutional, political, economic, and social aspects.
  • Claims that the elections lacked transparency, credibility, and inclusivity desired by the people.
  • Mention of irresponsible and unpredictable governance leading to social deterioration and chaos.

Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions (CTRI)

  • CTRI declares its intention to defend peace by ending the current regime.
  • Officers represent the people of Gabon and act as guarantors of institutional protection.
  • General Brice Oligui Nguema of the Republican Guard hailed by soldiers, indicating support for the coup.

Arrests and Allegations

  • Arrest of Ali Bongo's son and adviser, Noureddin Bongo Valentin, along with other officials.
  • Accusations include treason, embezzlement, corruption, and falsification of the president's signature.

Background and Election Dispute

  • Ali Bongo was elected in 2009 after his father's death; family rule for over 55 years.
  • 2016 elections marked by violence after Bongo's narrow victory; allegations of fraud.
  • Gabon's opposition accuses Bongo of fraud and demands a peaceful transfer of power.

International Response and Concerns

  • France, with a historical presence in Gabon, closely monitors the situation.
  • Russia expresses deep concern, and China calls for dialogue and restoration of normal order.
  • Five other African countries recently experienced coups, highlighting regional instability.

Geopolitical and Economic Context

  • Gabon was ruled by the Bongo family for decades; close ties with France.
  • Paris maintains military presence in former territories, including Gabon.
  • French mining group Eramet halts activities in Gabon for staff safety and operational security.

About Gabon

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  • Gabon is a country located in Central Africa, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west.
  • Known for its rich biodiversity, natural resources, and unique cultural heritage, Gabon is a country of contrasts.

Geography and Environment

  • Gabon is situated along the equator, covering an area of about 267,667 square kilometers.
  • The country boasts a variety of ecosystems, including rainforests, savannas, wetlands, and coastal regions.
  • Gabon is recognized for its exceptional biodiversity, housing a wide range of plant and animal species, some of which are rare and endemic.

Culture and Society

  • Gabon is home to several ethnic groups, including the Fang, Bapounou, Eshira, and Myene, each contributing to the nation's cultural mosaic.
  • French is the official language, while indigenous languages are also widely spoken. Fang is one of the prominent local languages.
  • Traditional animistic beliefs and practices persist alongside Christianity and Islam, influencing various aspects of Gabonese culture.

Economy and Natural Resources

  • Gabon's economy heavily depends on oil production, which is a major source of revenue. The country also has reserves of minerals like manganese and iron ore.
  • Gabon has taken steps towards sustainable development, implementing measures to protect its forests and promote ecotourism.
  • Despite its resource wealth, Gabon faces challenges such as wealth inequality, unemployment, and diversifying its economy beyond oil.

Tourism and Natural Beauty

  • Gabon boasts numerous national parks and wildlife reserves, such as Loango National Park, offering opportunities for eco-tourism and wildlife viewing.
  • From pristine beaches along the Atlantic coast to dense rainforests teeming with wildlife, Gabon offers diverse and stunning landscapes.
  • The country's commitment to preserving its natural beauty and wildlife makes it an appealing destination for ecotourism and nature enthusiasts.

Conservation Efforts

  • Gabon has established a network of protected areas to safeguard its unique ecosystems and wildlife, contributing to global conservation efforts.
  • Gabon Bleu Initiative was launched in 2020, this initiative focuses on marine conservation, aiming to protect 26% of Gabon's waters by 2025.
  • The Gabonese government has implemented measures to combat illegal logging and conserve its rainforests, which are crucial for biodiversity and climate regulation.

Political Landscape

  • Gabon has experienced relative political stability under the presidency of Ali Bongo Ondimba, although the country has witnessed political transitions and challenges.
  • Gabon practices a multi-party democratic system, but the country has seen periods of political tension and debate over electoral processes.
  • The government has made efforts to improve healthcare, education, and social services for its citizens, although disparities in access still exist.


Q) Consider the following statements regarding Gabon:

  1. Gabonese is the official language of the country.
  2. It is not bordered by Cameroon and the Republic of Congo.

Select the correct statements using the codes below:

(a)1 only

(b)2 only

(c)Both 1 and 2

(d)Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: D