France condemns Gabon coup
France condemns the military coup in Gabon, where President Ali Bongo Ondimba was toppled, marking a setback for Paris in Africa.
Gabon's former president, Ali Bongo Ondimba, was recently ousted in a military coup, which has drawn condemnation from France. This event is seen as another setback for France in Africa, as a number of friendly governments have been overthrown in what some are calling an "epidemic" of coups. The French government spokesperson, Olivier Veran, expressed France's disapproval of the coup and stated that they are closely monitoring the situation. France also emphasized the importance of respecting the results of the disputed presidential elections that took place on Saturday.
France has a significant presence in Gabon, with around 400 soldiers permanently stationed in the country for training and military support. The country also has strong economic ties to Gabon, particularly in the mining and oil sectors. However, the political turmoil in Gabon is part of a larger pattern of coups in French-speaking Africa in recent years. Countries like Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger have seen the rise of military governments that have taken a hostile stance towards France. These governments have tapped into the resentment felt by many locals towards the former colonial power and its ongoing influence.
The situation in Gabon is still uncertain, as the views and politics of the new military regime remain unknown. General Brice Oligui Nguema, the head of the Republican Guard, is believed to be leading the regime. France's colonial past and its support for corrupt and authoritarian leaders in the region have tarnished its image and undermined its influence. China and Russia have been working to undercut France's influence in Africa, challenging its status as the dominant foreign power in the region.
French President Emmanuel Macron has acknowledged the "epidemic of coups" and expressed concern about the situation. Macron visited Gabon earlier this year, which was seen by some as a show of support for Bongo ahead of the disputed elections. However, the recent coup in Niger, which overthrew a close French ally, has led Macron to take a tougher stance against military regimes. France has refused to recognize the new regime in Niger and has 1,500 troops stationed there as part of its military strategy in the Sahel region.
The events in Gabon and other African countries highlight the growing anti-French sentiment in the region. Bongo's father, Omar, was a close ally of France in the post-colonial era, but his family's extensive real estate portfolio in Paris is now being investigated for corruption. Former French president Francois Hollande has criticized Macron for not taking a strong enough stance against military coups in the past and has raised concerns about foreign influences, particularly from autocratic regimes like Russia and China, that may be destabilizing these countries and reducing Western influence.