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Gabon Coup Leader Sworn In

Gabon's new strongman General Brice Oligui Nguema (R) salutes as he is inaugurated as Gabon's interim President, in Libreville on September 4, 2023.

Gen. Brice Oligui Nguema, the leader of the military coup that ousted President Ali Bongo, was sworn in Monday as the interim president by the nation’s constitutional court.

Gabon’s junta solidified its grip on power through a televised inauguration ceremony for Gen. Brice Oligui Nguema, who was responsible for the removal of President Ali Bongo from office, minutes after an announcement that the former head of state had secured his third term through an election.

The coup that witnessed Gen. Nguema’s rise to power and the end to 56-years of rule by the Bongo family, was highly celebrated by citizens of the Central African nation but received condemnation from the regional and international community.

Leaders of Central Africa’s ECCAS regional body are due to meet in person on Monday to discuss their response to Bongo's ousting. Last week they urged partners led by the United Nations and the African Union to support a rapid return to constitutional order.

Statements issued last week by U.S. officials echoed ECCAS’s position on Gabon.

While speaking to press Friday on military coups in Gabon and Niger, John Kirby, the White House national security spokesperson said Washington is still pursuing “viable diplomatic solutions” that will witness respect for democratic institutions in both nations.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the rise of coups in Africa, arguing that military led governments “cannot resolve a crisis,” while calling for all junta led nations on the continent to “establish credible democratic institutions and the rule of law.”

Gen. Nguema Friday told Gabonese that the military government would respect democratic values and assured that it would proceed “quickly but surely” however cautioned that too much haste could lead to elections that lack credibility.

While speaking during his inauguration, Gen. Nguema extended his list of promises after vowing to re-write the nation's constitution that was established in 1991 which will permit no leader serving for more than two terms.

Franck Jocktane, a Gabonese human rights and democracy advocate, told VOA that civil society in Gabon is satisfied with the sentiments echoed by the Central African nation’s interim leader.

"They (Gabon’s military government) are trying to re-do the constitution, and if I heard them correctly, they are trying to pick up the constitution of 1991 and adjust it a little bit better to make sure that no one will take advantage or twist it or change it for personal interest," Jocktane said.

"It seems that the country is calm, the people are still rejoicing… we have been under the rule of one family for almost five decades," he added.

Information for this article was sourced from Agence France-Presse and Reuters. VOA’s James Butty contributed to this article.