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The “Coup Belt” & a New Cold War

President Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon was locked in his palace last week after his cousin, General Brice Clotaire Oligui Nguema, announced that his soldiers had taken over the oil rich country.
President Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon was locked in his palace last week after his cousin, General Brice Clotaire Oligui Nguema, announced that his soldiers had taken over the oil rich country. Photo: Malkolm M./Getty Images
Julia Ioffe
September 6, 2023

Last week, as the summer drew to a close, President Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon found himself under house arrest, locked in his luxurious palace in the capital, Libreville. His cousin, General Brice Clotaire Oligui Nguema, announced that he and his soldiers had taken over the oil rich country on Africa’s Atlantic coast and would be ushering in a transition period. A month earlier, something similar had happened in Niger, when Colonel-Major Amadou Abdramane and his soldiers arrested Niger’s president, Mohamed Bazoum, and, blaming his regime for “poor economic and social governance,” declared an end to it.