While France is still clinging to and hoping for the return of ousted President Mohamed Bazoum to power, after he was removed in a coup more than a month ago without this being achieved, Paris lost the capital of France Afrique, after Gabon’s soldiers decided to remove President Ali Bangu, cancel the election results, and dissolve the country. All institutions in the country and announce the “end of the existing regime.”
If Paris was not aware of what was being planned by the Gabonese soldiers against the rule of President Ali Bangu, the son of former President Omar Bangu, and was surprised like other countries by the military coup, then this is an indication of the failure of its intelligence. If it was aware of this and could not stand against this unconstitutional change, then it is considered a double failure, because Gabon is not Mali, Burkina Faso, or even Niger, where French influence differs, because things are different in the capital, Libreville, where it represents the “France Afrique” citadel to All successive presidents lived in the Elysee Palace until the current president, Emmanuel Macron.
Many question marks arise regarding this new emergency in Gabon, as it has been an example for decades regarding the “France Africa” policy practiced by the rulers of France on the African continent. Among the questions raised: Did Paris “sacrifice” one of its most important and trusted partners on the African continent in response to the wave of popular anger targeting its presence, especially in its old colonies, in order to believe that it had actually declared its “repentance” of the “France Africa” policy irrevocably? By destroying its idol in Gabon, which was a shrine and an obligatory passage for any president who wanted to send his messages to Paris?
Paris has ears in Gabon that it does not have in other countries, through its multiple military bases, influential companies, and its large community there, which makes the implementation and success of any coup operation in the country with uncertain results. Was the “kamikaze” coup operation a message that the Gabonese president’s order could no longer tolerate delay and they “ate him as a meal before he served them dinner”? The delay of Paris and its media in its reaction to the coup process and not hastening it as it did in Niger, where it preceded everyone to denounce, threaten and intimidate and declared its adherence to President Mohamed Bazoum and described him as “democratically elected”, would leave the possibility of another reading of the scene in Gabon and perhaps that it will not be repeated. The position of rupture that it adopted with the military junta in Niger, and thus perhaps killing two birds with one stone, preserving its relationship with the new authority in Gabon and getting rid of President Ali Bangu, who has become an important guest and a source of threat to France’s interests in the region, after the escalation of popular anger against his rule and the alliance of opposition parties against him. Corruption scandals are widespread in the country, with a convinced street that believes that France’s “inheritance” and protection for several years is behind this crisis that has arisen in the country.
The coup plotters’ declaration in their first statement of “the end of the existing ruling regime” and turning the page on the legacy of Omar Pangu is a high bar raised by Pangu’s opponents. Is it just a message to gain street support for this change and achieve popular support around it? Or is it a process of “lifting” to give the impression that the Gabonese has only shed its skin like a snake without compromising the foundations of its faith? Until the vision becomes clearer in this new scene, it is certain that attention will shift from Niger towards Gabon. Is this a sign that the “France Afrique” castle has changed direction?