MOSCOW, August 30. /TASS/. The military coup in Gabon has become a surprise, this even will damage France’s interests in the region, says Vsevolod Sviridov, expert of the HSE University’s Center for African Studies.
"There were fewer preconditions for a coup in Gabon than there were in Niger. Gabon was relatively stable and rich, it is rich in water resources, it exports oil, which, considering the small population of 2.3 million people, made it possible to ensure political and economic stability and allowed the Bongo family to stay in power for almost 70 years. In addition, Gabon had very good relations with the US and France," Sviridov told TASS, underscoring that, in this context, the coup in Gabon "has become a surprise" for external observers.
"These events play against France, because Gabon used to be relatively pro-French, the French business maintained strong positions," the expert continued.
He noted that the military has not yet publicly voice its position towards Paris, "but there is a trend of African countries gradually turning away from France."
At the same time, he stated his certainty that the coup in Gabon "does not post significant threats from the standpoint of regional security."
"The Central African Region, where Gabon is located, is much more stable than the Sahara-Sahel Region or the West Africa. There is no such high terrorist threat," the analyst pointed out.
Comparing the consequences of the regime change in Gabon and Niger, he noted that "the reasons behind them and the context, in which they took place, are qualitatively different."
"We do not know yet how neighbors will react to this, how the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) will react. But I do not believe that they will respond to the coup as harshly as the ECOWAS did," Sviridov concluded.
Previously, a group of high-ranking Gabonese military announced a seizure of power on the national television. The rebels include representatives of the Republican Guard, led by Bris Brice Clotaire Oligui Nguema; security agencies, army and the police. The rebels voided the outcome of the August 26 elections, won by President Ali ben Bongo Ondimba, who ran for the third term. The current president and representatives of his administration were arrested.