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US Formally Concludes that a Military Coup Has taken Place in Gabon

FILE - This video grab shows coup supporters cheering police officers in Libreville, Gabon, on Aug. 30, 2023.
FILE - This video grab shows coup supporters cheering police officers in Libreville, Gabon, on Aug. 30, 2023.

The United States has suspended most financial assistance to the central African country of Gabon in response to August’s military takeover.

“The United States has concluded that a military coup d’état has taken place in Gabon,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement released Monday. Miller said the aid had been temporarily paused since Sept. 26. Miller said all “humanitarian, health, and education assistance” to Gabon will continue.

A group of army officers led by General Brice Clotaire Oligui Nguema, chief of the Republican Guard, placed President Ali Bongo under house arrest on Aug, 30 and seized power. General Nguema was designated president of a committee aimed at eventually returning power to a civilian government.

The mutinous soldiers announced the coup on national television just moments after the nation’s election commission declared that Bongo had won a third term in general elections held just days before.

Bongo first took office in 2009 after the death of his father, Omar Bongo, who had ruled the oil-producing country for the previous 42 years.

Opponents say the family has failed to share the country’s oil and mining wealth with its 2.3 million people.

Judd Devermont, a special assistant to U.S. President Joe Biden, met with Nguema and military-appointed Prime Minister Raymond Ndong Sima last week in the capital, Libreville, to discuss a path forward on restoring democracy in Gabon.

Gabon state TV reported that Nguema reiterated after the meeting he will return power to civilian rule at the end of the transition, but he did not announce a timeframe.

“The United States reaffirms our commitment to support Gabon in conducting a timely and durable transition to democratic civilian governance,” Miller said in his statement. “We will resume our assistance alongside concrete actions by the transitional government toward establishing democratic rule.”

Some information for this report came from Reuters.