Army take over in Gabon to protect democracy and the people’s votes – will Sierra Leone follow suit?

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 30 August 2023:

The military in the West African State of Gabon have taken power from President Ali Bongo (Photo above), after the country’s electoral commission declared Bongo the winner of presidential election which took place last week.

The opposition leader has disputed the results of the election, saying they have been rigged by the electoral commission to keep president Bongo in power.

According to the electoral commission, President Bongo won by 54% whiles the opposition leader – polled 46%.

Tensions are rising in the country, amid rising costs of living and claims of human rights abuse by the government.

Military leaders today appeared on television, declaring that they have annulled the election results and placed Ali Bongo under house arrest.

The military leaders also said that they have sacked all state institutions including suspension of  parliament. One of the soldiers said on TV channel Gabon 24: “We have decided to defend peace by putting an end to the current regime.”

The coup leaders described the Bongo administration as “irresponsible, unpredictable governance resulting in a continuing deterioration in social cohesion that risks leading the country into chaos”.

Many in Africa – especially the youths who make up over 70% of the population now believe that the military in African countries must reserve the moral right to intervene in order to stop the erosion of democracy that is being witnessed across the continent, and to safeguard the people’s votes from corrupt, power hungry heads of state.

Where the people’s voice have been stifled by corrupt leaders who are committing extrajudicial killing of their own citizens in cold blood, the army must feel morally obliged to intervene to take over power and oversee fresh elections under a reconstituted electoral commission.

In Zimbabwe tensions are rising following the stealing of the people’s votes by President  Emmerson Mnangagwa and the country’s electoral commission last week. The main opposition party – The Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) are refusing to accept the rigged results, calling for a re-run of the elections.

Spokesman for the CCC Gift Siziba told a news conference that: “The only resolution and way forward… is that Zimbabwe needs a fresh and … proper election to end the current crisis.”

“We have made it very clear that the entire election in this country was flawed,” he said, alleging there had been deliberate voter suppression leading to a low turnout in urban areas where the CCC tends to perform strongly.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa of the ruling ZANU-PF was declared the winner in the vote last weekend. ZANU-PF denies that it tried to influence the outcome, and Mnangagwa has urged those with complaints about the results to approach the courts.

The elections commission said Mnangagwa received roughly 53% of the vote against 44% for the CCC’s Nelson Chamisa. But political analysts were quick to question the credibility of those results.

Analysts say the CCC is unlikely to have much success launching a legal challenge, given the judicial system is widely viewed as being controlled by ZANU-PF.

“It seems incredulous that you would approach the same court that has been condemned and expect an outcome that would be in your favour,” said Chris Maroleng from Good Governance Africa.

He said the opposition’s best bet might be for it to get Southern African regional bloc SADC to push for the elections to be re-run under international supervision.

In Sierra Leone, as post-June 24 elections crisis continues, the political climate is getting hotter with many calling on the military to intervene should the electoral commission continue to refuse to publish all polling station disaggregated results.

In July, there was an alleged plan by sections of Sierra Leone’s security forces to unseat the government of President Bio, who international election observers and the main opposition APC party are accusing of rigging the June 24 elections.

The APC party is calling for the elections to be re-run, as records show that no single party had won an outright majority.

But many analysts now believe that the alleged coup planning plot was a stunt by President Bio who himself is an ex-soldier to purge the country’s security forces of those suspected to be against the June 24 election outcomes, especially soldiers and police who are of northern origin – heartland of the main opposition APC.

So far over 15 people including senior army and police officers are alleged to have been arrested and facing investigation.

But so far, no names have been published by the police, prompting many to believe that the whole coup story is a stunt to create panic among soldiers who are not supporters of President Bio.

As inflation and the cost of living crisis grow in Sierra Leone, with recent announcement of a one hundred percent increase in electricity tariff and massive hike in fuel prices, alongside food scarcity, many are looking to the army for respite and a change of government.


  1. The English-speaking France-Sorbonne-educated Ali Bongo of the french Freetown (Libreville) was asking what is going on in that viral video that if watched by our present autocratic African Leaders will see them shaking or quaking in their boots. How have the mighty fallen? Whatever goes up is bound to come crashing down in the fullest of time.

    Who wants to tell him what is going on then as he said in the video that he does not know? Any chance any one will make any loud noises on his behalf as he demanded and begged? Fat chance methinks as the exclusice West Africa Gentleman’s club-ECOWAS-who you Bongo/Gabon is not a member of is even having cold feet to go on a military adventure against the Putschists in Niger despite their egging-on by France and the raison d’etre of the coup in Niger being less justified or having a lower threshold compared to your Gabon, recent affected countries in the Sahel and those other countries in Africa ripe or are candidates for the next coup d’etas.

    I will hazard a guess as to what is going on even though truth be told Gabon is one of the better African countries economically. The Khaki Boys have intervened in the affairs of state in Gabon to, at least, check the excesses and eccentricities below on your part, Monsieur Bongo. The below coup-triggers are more or less a microcosm of what is happening in majority of African Countries.

    1. Overstating your people’s welcome via a medieval kingdom-like dynasty.
    2. Compromising all state institutions including the Judiciary, putting their heads in your pocket and at your beckon.
    3. Making your people poorer year in year out whilst you, your family, friends and accolytes become richer at their expenses. The loot is readily transferred to Paris, other Western Capitals and offshore tax havens. That ill-gotten wealth is ultimately laundered into real estate and shell companies for your self, family and family members yet unborn.
    4. Manipulating every stage of the election cycle and processes, staging fake elections and coercing or forcing your Electoral Commisioner to cook up the numbers that do not actually reflect the free will and choices of the majority of your people.
    5. Going rogue with the constitution, manipulating it or instigating a constitutional coup to prolong your stay in power with the carte blanche, acquiescence, deafening silence or nod of your regional Gentleman’s club and the African Union.
    6. Suppressing alternative views and opinions of critics and dissidents accompanied by egregious human right abuses against the political opposition, civil society groups, human right campaigners, political and social activists.

    I hope and pray that the current wave of military takeovers is only an aberration or anomaly and does not become a permanent fixture in the political landscape. As some of the wrongs in these affected countries are righted, after the smooth and normal functioning of the compromised state institutions have been restored in part or in whole, the military will return to their barracks and give the civilians another go in steering the ships of states and lead our poor African counties into calmer and brighter shores.

  2. I personally believe that this coup is to get rid of the Bongo family dynasty who has undemocratically ruled Gabon for over 55 years. This same revolution happened in Sierra Leone in 1992 when our young gallant soldiers kicked out the corrupt one party dictatorship APC party after 25 years of misrule.
    Some political analysts also believe that it is “French Spring”; as was in “Arab Spring Revolution” that began in 2010, based on the fact that France resentments is growing in Africa. If this coup is about the current election, let the coup leader recount the votes and handover power to the opposition leader who they believe is the winner. When that happens, then they will break the record of then Retired Brigadier Maada Bio, who took power and returned our nation to Democracy within 90 days. Sierra Leone was also the first country in Africa to reverse a coup leader (Johnny Paul Koroma), by restoring the democratically elected leader (President Ahmed Tejan Kabba) between 1997 and 1998.

  3. Let’s attempt to take a U-turn similar to Singapore, China, and other countries in terms of their achievements. Rwanda and China, which we admire today, are facing similar political problems. However, the opposition in these countries is still extending their hands for development. But where are we? For some of us, politics has ravaged our dopamine.

    Even the USA is not experiencing a perfect democracy; there are deficiencies.

  4. Military coups are worse than pandemic, as we’ve witnessed in Sudan and other countries where such coups have occurred or are ongoing. It’s essential for us to refrain from thinking otherwise. Instead, let’s pray for redemption and unity, rather than causing havoc due to political affiliations.

    Let us remember our people, especially those that earn their living by working on a daily basis.

    Why are we too selfish and forgettable, I pray that God will keep the little peace and give us redemption.

  5. People quick to rush to conclusion and start making comparison with another country. Folks please try to understand the changing of government in Gabon. It’s not a real 100% coup, General Brice Clothaire Oligui Nguema was named Gabon’s transitional leader. He is the cousin of the ousted president Ali Bongo. I don’t wanna say much.

  6. Illegitimate Mad Bio is already being paranoid and among other things, they have now stopped canoes from docking after 7pm. They claim it is to combat lawlessness, but obviously Mad Bio is afraid those coming for him will come by sea (we will see what excuse they use when they start shutting down or implementing extra strict securities at the land borders). With the problems created by the stolen elections being compounded by ridiculous high and continuing price rises, his paranoia will know no bounds and our people will soon be living in a police state so he can feel safe.

    As the saying goes, karma is a BS. He thought he could just bulldoze and paopa his way into another term despite the will of the people. He thought he could use the police and the army to suppress the people and get his way, but reality is getting in his way. India just banned rice exports. If the problem is real and not just paranoia on India’s part, Vietnam and Myanmar may follow suit. At that point, where available, the price of rice will now be up 30-50% on the international market.

    As it is now, the salary of the average Sierra Leonean is not enough to pay for food and transportation, let alone housing. That’s a recipe for disaster for any government. So take tem talk ar beg duya, nor gee am more reason for lae e cam turn we people to slaves in their own country who are not allowed to move about. They say Covid is picking up again, Mad Bio would probably welcome that so he can declare a shutdown and have everyone stay home so he does not have to worry about his personal safety.

  7. Where there is smoke, there also you will surely find fire…the two are intertwined together…mutually involved; One family has been ruling Gabon for countless decades gone by…it is only right for genuine democratic change to come; Yes, for countless decades, and during this time total discontent has been married to fear and has now boldly fathered many, illegitimate, wretched, beggarly children, for whom no one, truly, really cares; A very strange wind blows across Africa presently…and it is purposeful, firmly resolved in its admirable quest to settle old scores; let it rain and rain…let it rain…this is a time of great pain, great gain…let it rain…not bullets of sadness but showers of mercy, ecstatic joy and rain;
    Finally, the moment we have predicted long ago has finally come…golden harvests, that we toiled, suffered and labored for…waiting for them yield their strengths, that were always washed callously away by massive, ruthless storms and hurricanes of police brutality, have now disappeared, out of mind and out of sight; A strange sight indeed! And those who once risked their lives for Freedom shedding tears of agony in their lonely, gloomy graves, are asking: “what auspicious waves are these, so full of promise, that have come crashing so gloriously and mightily on Africa’s impoverished doors?
    The little man in State House should be taking notes; Whether it is a perfect storm or a hurricane that will come crashing on his doors…no one knows but the winds that whispered, tellingly those words in the ears of the stars from very far away; No one knows! A strange wind is blowing…Mr. President, while there is still time, whilst the happy, little birds are playing around and not yet have returned to their cozy nests, before the dark night descends and finds you wanting…I say to you…YOU LOST! Its time to Go! Pack your things now and leave!

    • I am not a fan of military coups as this also brings a different kind of suffering on the people but sometimes the only way that an entrenched and corupt order can be overturned is by drastic out of the box action. In Africa, we tout democracy as if it is the “be all, end all” of good governance. Yet, as the citadel of democracy and democratic thinking has taught us, you need strong and independent institutions to support democracy. Furthermore, you need men of principles and integrity who takes their oath of office seriously and will not bend to political will.

      Unfortunately, in most of Africa, those institutions have been corrupted and compromised. It is very sad that the the courts which should stand as the pillar of integerity and the arbiter of justice, is itself compromised. In Sierra Leone, I lay the blame squarely on the shoulders of both major parties. Perhaps the only difference between them, is in degrees as to the lenght each of them is willing to go to sustain their grip on power to attain their selfish goals. I wish that such energies were being expended to make the lives of the people better.

      So as per the leader of Burkina Faso, the youths are asking why with all the natural resources that these African countries have and in most cases with over 60 years of independence, that they are still poor with very little to show for it. In my opinion, this is the crux of the matter that ECOWAS should be urgently trying to address rather than running full speed ahead to launch a war (and being quietly prodded on by their puppet masters) to restore an order that hasn’t worked to bring improvements to the lives of the people. No matter what system of government is in place, it should bring improvements to the lives of the populace.

      This is the level at which ECOWAS should be looking to engage rather than after a military coup when it is too late.

      The African youths are watching and it seems that, they are not willing to sit and take it anymore.

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