In a move aimed at establishing stability and a smooth transition of power, Gabon interim president General Brice Oligui Nguema has appointed new leaders to both houses of parliament.
These appointments include former opposition leaders and stalwarts of the ousted regime, marking a significant shift in the country’s political landscape.
The interim president, who assumed power after a bloodless coup d’état against President Ali Bongo Ondimba, has taken swift action to address the claims of electoral fraud that led to widespread protests and a tense political climate. Just moments before the coup, Bongo had been declared the winner of a controversial presidential election, which both the army and opposition parties denounced as fraudulent.
General Oligui has made it clear that his primary objective is to hand over the reins of power to civilian rule through a transitional period that would culminate in free and fair elections. However, he has not provided a specific timeline for this transition.
To navigate this challenging period and ensure a successful transition, Oligui has formed a broad-based transitional government, led by new Prime Minister Raymond Ndong Sima. Sima, a Paris-educated economist, previously served as Prime Minister under Bongo from 2012 to 2014, before running against him in the 2016 and 2023 presidential campaigns.
Paulette Missambo, one of Bongo’s prominent rivals in the election, and the leader of the National Union party, has been appointed as the head of the new Senate. This appointment sends a clear message that the interim president is committed to including diverse voices in the political process.
Jean-Francois Ndongou, who held several ministerial positions during the Bongo family’s decades-long rule, has been designated as the speaker of the transitional National Assembly. This choice reflects Oligui’s intention to bridge the divide between the old regime and the opposition.
In a bid for inclusivity, Oligui has named four vice-presidents for each house, comprising army officers, politicians who opposed and supported Bongo, as well as prominent figures from civil society. This diverse representation aims to build consensus and promote unity during this critical transitional period.
Furthermore, the interim president is expected to appoint 70 members of the assembly and 50 members of the senate. These additional appointments will further solidify the new leadership’s mandate and ensure a functioning and representative parliament.
The newly announced government by Ndong Sima on Saturday includes individuals with military backgrounds and former ministers who previously served under the former president Ali Bongo Ondimba. It is notable that no prominent opposition figures were included in the government.
Oligui has expressed a commitment to introducing a new constitution through a referendum, as well as a new electoral code.
Furthermore, the curfew that was initially implemented in Libreville and its surrounding areas by the previous government and subsequently upheld by the military has been reduced by four hours. The curfew will now be in effect from 10 pm to 6 am. However, it is important to note that the curfew hours of 6 pm to 6 am will remain in place in other parts of the country, as announced by the military.