Terrorist Groups and the Spread of Unrest: The Gabon Coup Raises Regional Concerns

The recent coup in the central African country of Gabon has raised regional concerns

Following the coup, the African Union decided to suspend the country’s membership. This is the first regional response amid a wave of international reactions. Despite external pressures, the coup plotters are determined to consolidate their power.

There are significant regional fears that this wave of coups could lead to the spread of terrorism and extremist hotspots in a continent that has been grappling with terrorism and extremism for decades.

A New Coup 

The American newspaper “Business Insider” confirmed that on August 30, members of the Gabonese military seized power from Ali Bongo, who was supposed to begin his third term as President of Gabon. The controversial election results could have led to an extension of the rule of the Bongo family, which had lasted for nearly six decades.

It continued that the leader of the coup and the former commander of the presidential guard, General Brice Oligui Nguema, is scheduled to take the constitutional oath as the country’s president on Monday.

It also added that Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, who was preoccupied with another coup just a few inches from Nigeria’s borders, condemned the Gabon coup, stating that these coups are the “contagion of tyranny.”

He said, “My concerns in Gabon have been confirmed that imitators will begin to do the same thing until it is stopped.”

Regional Decisions 

The newspaper confirmed that the African Union’s Peace and Security Council took the initiative on Thursday to suspend Gabon from participating in any of its activities, bodies, or organizations until the constitutional order is restored.

The Central African Political Gathering, to which Gabon belongs, also condemned the coup in a statement, saying that it will hold an “imminent” summit of heads of state to determine how to respond. There was no specific date set.

On the morning of the past Wednesday, the world received news of the eighth coup in Africa since 2020. It is not surprising at this stage that some senior military leaders in Gabon announced the success of the coup through a live television broadcast. Shortly after hearing gunfire in the capital city of Libreville, some Gabonese took to the streets to support the coup orchestrators and cheered for them, celebrating the overthrow of the 64-year-old president. Later in the same day, a video appeared showing Bongo, who was detained in his residence, appealing for assistance from international allies, indicating that they should “make some noise.”

Terrorism Concerns 

The 2023 Alternation Party, Gabon’s largest opposition party, expressed gratitude to the military council on Thursday for ending Bongo’s lengthy rule. However, Deputy Mike Jocktane insisted that the coup organizers must complete what he claimed was an incomplete vote tallying process. According to him, the election results will reveal the main rival, Albert Ondo Ossa, as the winner.

The Gabon coup has increased international and regional concerns that coups in the Sahel and the fragile desert region could already lead to the spread of terrorist groups. Coups and military and civil unrest are significant opportunities for the expansion of terrorist and extremist groups.

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