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A Gabon military coup leader is sworn in as interim president, promising elections

Gen. Brice Oligui Nguema salutes as he is inaugurated as Gabon's interim president, in Libreville, Monday.
AFP via Getty Images
Gen. Brice Oligui Nguema salutes as he is inaugurated as Gabon's interim president, in Libreville, Monday.

LAGOS, Nigeria — The leader of the military coup in Gabon last week has been sworn in as the interim president of the Central African country, while the deposed former president remains detained at his residence.

Gen. Brice Oligui Nguema was the head of the presidential guard but will now lead Gabon, less than a week after the military took power of the oil-rich, biodiverse country and ousted President Ali Bongo Ondimba.

Bongo was president for 14 years, taking the reins from his father, Omar Bongo, who had ruled for over 40 years until his death in 2009.

Soldiers arrested Ali Bongo Ondimba soon after he was pronounced winner of elections that opposition groups called fraudulent.

Many in the country have celebrated his removal from office, frustrated with widespread corruption allegations involving the country's resources and economic problems. Unemployment among those between the ages of 15 and 24 in Gabon is at nearly 40%, and more than 30% of the population live in poverty.

Yet the new military leader himself Oligui is a cousin of the deposed president and has also caused concern. Political groups have called on the new authorities to set a date for when they will hand back power to a civilian government.

Oligui said a transition to an elected government will happen "quickly and surely" but has not released details on the timing. He said authorities need time to make sure new elections are credible.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Emmanuel Akinwotu
Emmanuel Akinwotu is an international correspondent for NPR. He joined NPR in 2022 from The Guardian, where he was West Africa correspondent.