Concerned about the rising tide of coups on the continent, African governments have begun reorganising their militaries and implementing preventative steps.
With Gabon coup leaders announcing yesterday that General Brice Oligui Nguema would be sworn in as “transitional president” in the constitutional court on Monday, African leaders were preparing a response to the officers who deposed President Ali Bongo and placed Nguema as head of state.
Gabon is the most recent African country to experience a coup, following Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Chad, and Sudan.
Rwanda retires 12 generals, while Cameroon restructures its military.
Concerned about the coup threat, the Rwandan and Cameroonian administrations have reshuffled their militaries, possibly in response to the recent coups in Niger and Gabon.
The government has approved the retirement of 12 generals and other commanders, according to the Rwandan national newspaper News Times.
According to the journal, the retirements were announced on Wednesday, August 30, in a statement made by the Rwanda Defence Force.
Two four-star generals, James Kabarebe and Fred Ibingira, and two three-star generals, Charles Kayonga and Frank Mushyo Kamanzi, retired.
Kabarebe and Kayonga had previously served as RDF Chiefs of Staff, while the other two were service chiefs.
“The President has also approved the retirement of 83 senior officers, six junior officers, and 86 senior non-commissioned officers, 678 whose contracts have expired, and 160 medical discharges,” according to the statement.
Cameroon is also included.
President Paul Biya of Cameroon also reshuffled the military, including new appointments.
This is according to a statement signed by Biya and shared on X, formerly known as Twitter. The declaration was written in French, the official language of the country.
New appointments to the Controle Generale des Armées were announced in the statement. Captain Ajeagah Njei Félix and Colonel Nguema Ondo Bertin Bourger are the new controllers.
Technical Advisers, Bureau Commissariat, and Air Force Technical Inspector jobs were also filled.
The GOC has asked disloyal soldiers to quit the Nigerian Army.
Major General Mohammed Usman, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the Nigerian Army’s 81 Division, requested disloyal soldiers to leave.
Usman, who called for devotion to President Bola Tinubu and authority, also urged soldiers to be professional and loyal, beginning with the President and working their way down to the upper echelons of the armed forces.
The Nigerian Army GOC addressed soldiers at the 35 Artillery Brigade, Alamala, Abeokuta, Ogun State, noting that there were some issues, but that they were not unique to the Brigade Command.
“While we look at the challenges and how to solve them, you have to be disciplined soldiers, loyal soldiers,” he remarked.
“When I say loyalty, I mean loyalty to the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, who is the President.” That comes first, followed by the next rung on the ladder. Loyalty to the Chiefs of Defence and Army Staff, all the way down to your Brigade Commander.
“You must be devoted. There is no place for soldiers who are not loyal to the established authorities. If you are not going to be loyal, then quit and do something else. However, if you are not faithful, the armed forces will not tolerate you.
“Discipline, loyalty, and the highest level of professionalism.” We are bearing arms so that others might sleep soundly and go about their daily lives. You must also be dedicated. If you enrol in any course, do your best to be among the best. You will advance in this position once you have all of these.”
Gabonese coup leader to be sworn in as ‘Transitional President’
Monday is President’s Day. General Brice Oligui Nguema, Gabon’s new strongman, will be sworn in as “transitional president” on Monday at the constitutional court, coup leaders said.
Ulrich Manfoumbi says Oligui will “phase in transitional institutions.” Manfoumbi, the spokesman for the Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions, announced on state television yesterday, a day after rebel officers deposed President Ali Bongo.
The term of the transitional institutions was not specified.
”All general secretaries, ministerial offices, directors general, and state service officials have been instructed “to ensure in the immediate future the effective resumption of work and continuity of the functioning of all public services,” the spokesman added.
The spokesman added that Oligui “would like to reassure all donors, development partners, and state creditors that all provisions will be taken to ensure respect for our country’s commitments both externally and internally.”
African leaders are preparing a response to the military coup in Gabon.
Meanwhile, African leaders were working yesterday on a reaction to the military who deposed Gabonese President Ali Bongo, the latest in a spate of coups in West and Central Africa that regional powers have failed to stop.
The coup brings an end to the Bongo family dynasty’s nearly six decades in power and creates a fresh conundrum for a region that has dealt with eight coups since 2020.
The Economic Community of Central African States ECCAS, Central Africa’s political bloc, also condemned the coup in a statement yesterday, saying it planned a “imminent” gathering of heads of state to consider how to respond. It did not provide a date.
The African Union’s Peace and Security Council will also meet to address the coup, according to a representative for the African Union Commission chair.
President Bola Tinubu, who was sworn in in May and currently chairs the West African group ECOWAS, said on Wednesday that he is collaborating with other African leaders to combat what he calls a “contagion of autocracy” sweeping across Africa.
The coups in Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Chad, and Niger during the last four years have erased democratic achievements made since the 1990s, increasing concerns among foreign countries with regional strategic interests. The coups also demonstrated African nations’ limited leverage once the military gained control.
Hundreds of people came to the streets of Libreville, Gabon’s capital, to celebrate the coup on Wednesday. The city was calmer yesterday as people returned to work, however security officers were stationed at major crossings and thoroughfares.
The African Union, former colonial power France, the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom have all expressed alarm about the coup but have not explicitly called for Bongo’s reinstatement.
Josep Borrell, the European Union’s foreign policy leader, also claimed Ali Bongo’s election was riddled with anomalies, adding that the EU opposed the seizure of power by force.
Why should we use a strong stick against putschists – Tinubu
Similarly, President Bola Tinubu warned yesterday that if the coupists were not dealt with harshly, African countries would experience the repercussions of forcible overthrow of democratically elected governments by soldiers.
He also stated that all diplomatic alternatives with the Niger Republic’s military junta would be exhausted before resorting to military involvement, and that any forcible removal of a democratic administration would be “wholly unacceptable.”
President Tinubu welcomed the Nigeria Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, led by the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, to the State House, noting that the option of kinetic intervention in Niger Republic had not been abandoned.
In a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Ajuri Ngelale, the President said, “I must thank you for your several visits to Niger Republic, Your Eminence, but you will still have to return.”
”My concern has been reinforced in Gabon that copycats will start doing the same thing unless it is stopped. We share a border with Niger Republic, and what has bound Nigerians to their magnificent people cannot be broken. Nobody wants to go to war.
”We saw the devastation in Ukraine and Sudan. But if we don’t wield the heavy stick, we’ll all bear the consequences.”
President Tinubu observed that in 1998, Nigeria, led by General Abdulsalami Abubakar, undertook a nine-month transition programme that was extraordinarily successful, ushering the country into a new age of democratic governance.
He stated that if the military leadership were honest, there was no reason why this could not be reproduced in Niger.
“Your Eminence, don’t get tired; you’ll still go there.” The soldiers’ behaviour is intolerable. The sooner they make meaningful changes, the sooner we will reduce sanctions to ease the suffering in Niger,” the President stated.
Regarding the hardships experienced by many Nigerians following the elimination of fuel subsidies, the President stated that the ongoing reforms would liberate and reposition the economy, benefiting the majority of the population in terms of opportunities, infrastructure, healthcare, and education.
“Nigeria is on a promising path.” Our variety will lead to success rather than adversity.
“We will build a country for our children,” the President promised.
Vice President Kashim Shettima stated at the conference that the President had budgeted N50 billion to help the continued rebuilding of lives and property in the North West and North East, as well as a new emphasis on dialogue to address security concerns.
The Sultan of Sokoto vowed “one hundred percent loyalty” to the President, stating that a leader could only be appointed by God’s will, not man’s.
He told the President that the NSCIA will be available to assist and support him in realising his vision for the country, and he added that “God will hold all leaders to account, in justice and fairness.”
He proposed that the distribution of palliatives across the country be reviewed and supplemented in areas where it failed to reach some of the individuals who were still in desperate need.
“I honestly believe we will come out of these challenges stronger,” the Sultan remarked.
Atiku advises African leaders to focus on the sickness that causes coups rather than the symptoms.
Meanwhile, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Nigeria’s former Vice-President and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential contender for 2023, has encouraged African leaders to focus on the core cause of the current surge in coups across the continent.
In a tweet Wednesday, Atiku said the military takeovers were concerning and demanded introspection.
“The coup in Gabon is condemned,” he stated. Democracy and democratic governance are here to stay as the preferred form of government, and all efforts should be made to enthrone, nurture, and support them.
“As I suggested in the case of Niger Republic, the ECOWAS and African Union authorities should open a diplomatic window to allow the soldiers to return to their barracks.”
“The latest coup brings the total number of military takeovers in Central and West Africa since 2020 to eight.” This is alarming and necessitates introspection. We may have to focus on treating the sickness rather than the symptoms that cause coups.”
Falana blames poverty for African coups.
Mr Femi Falana, SAN, a human rights lawyer, also said yesterday that high levels of poverty were to blame for the surge of coups in Africa.
He addressed at a national symposium of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, in Abuja.
Falana accused Nigeria’s governing class of taking the people for granted, claiming that the National Assembly allotted billions to itself despite the country’s poverty.
The symposium’s theme was “Nigeria’s Economy and the Survival Crisis: Robbing the Poor to Pay the Rich.”
His remark comes in the wake of recent coups in Africa. The most recent was in Gabon, where troops seized control, thereby ending the Bongo dynasty’s tenure.