Gabon’s junta says deposed president is ‘freed’ and can travel on a medical trip


LIBREVILLE, Gabon (AP) — Gabon’s ousted President Ali Bongo Ondimba, who has been under house arrest since he was deposed last week, is free Thursday and can embark on a medical trip, the country’s new military leaders said.

Ondimba is “free to move given his state of health,” Col. Ulrich Manfoumbi, spokesman for the transition committee, said on state television a day earlier. “He can, if he wishes, go abroad to carry out his medical checks.”

The ousted president’s health was not immediately clear. He had suffered a stroke in late 2018 that kept him from his duties for months. Local television Gabon24 broadcast a meeting late Wednesday between Ondimba and Abdou Barry, head of the UN Office for Central Africa.

“I found him in good health,” Barry said on his meeting with the ousted president.

The 64-year-old was on Aug. 30 toppled from power amid a resurgence of coups in parts of Africa and shortly after he was declared the winner of a disputed election that would have extended his family’s 55-year reign. He succeeded his father in 2009.

Meanwhile, the newly sworn-in military leader in Gabon, Gen. Brice Clotaire Oligui Nguema, met with regional and local authorities this week, promising better infrastructure and a peaceful transition to citizens in the oil-rich Central African nation.

In the capital, Libreville, he met with the Central African Republic’s President Faustin Archange Touadera, who was appointed an envoy of the regional Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), and with Barry, head of the UN Office for Central Africa.

“Our discussions focused on the current situation of our nation as well as the promising prospects of the transition,” Gen. Nguema wrote of his meeting with Barry on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Concerns remained about the military takeovers and the delayed return of democracies in parts of Africa where soldiers have promised a lengthy transition process. The new military leader in Gabon has also promised to return power to the people by organizing free, transparent and credible elections but gave no date for a transition.

At Nguema’s meeting this week with senior Gabonese government officials, he pledged to deliver “real development” to people whose oil wealth has been widely seen to be concentrated in the hands of a few. Nearly 40% of Gabonese ages 15 to 24 were out of work in 2020, according to the World Bank.

“We want simple things for the Gabonese people,” he said in a broadcast on the Gabon24 television, promising national health care and improved education and environmental policy. “But to achieve this, you must first have an effective administration.”


Asadu reported from Abuja, Nigeria.

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