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.