Another Regime in ‘French Africa’ Is Toppled

Military officers in Gabon on Wednesday overthrew and arrested the country’s president, whose family ruled  since 1967.  It is the fourth coup in a former French African colony in the past three years as pressure mounts on Paris.

Post-coup celebrations in Gabon on Wednesday. (Lord Bebo/Twitter)

By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News

Wild celebrations have broken out on the streets of Gabon’s cities on Wednesday after a military junta announced on television that it had put President Ali Bongo Ondimba under house arrest and had seized power.  

The Bongo family had ruled the former French colony since 1967. Ali Bongo was the wealthiest man in Gabon with an estimated $1 billion in assets.  The coup took place just after the country’s electoral commission declared that he won a third term.

It is the fifth coup in a West African country once ruled directly by France since August 2020, when Mali fell to military leaders. This was followed by military coups in Burkina Faso in September 2022, in Guinea in September 2021, in Niger last month and in Gabon on Wednesday.  

The pressure is growing on Paris as the coups are directed against France’s continuing Neo-colonial rule in West Africa. The push to get France out is being buoyed by a growing confidence of developing countries in the emergence of a multilateral world amid the accelerating death of U.S. unilateralism and the remnants of colonialism.

The African Union and France, which has 350 troops in the country, have condemned the coup. It isn’t clear yet whether these troops will be asked to leave by the new rulers. 

The coup government in Mali ordered French troops out of its country by March 18, 2022.  France completed its withdrawal on Aug. 15, 2022. On Jan. 26 this year, France agreed to withdraw its forces from Burkina Faso after a request from the government that had seized power there.

In Niger, a similar demand has been made by the junta that took power last month, but French President Emmanuel Macron is so far playing hardball, refusing to move out his forces and supporting a potential military intervention by ECOWAS to restore Niger’s restored leader. 

Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former U.N. correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and numerous other newspapers, including The Montreal Gazette, the London Daily Mail and The Star of Johannesburg. He was an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times of London, a financial reporter for Bloomberg News and began his professional work as a 19-year old stringer for The New York Times. He is the author of two books, A Political Odyssey, with Sen. Mike Gravel, foreword by Daniel Ellsberg; and How I Lost By Hillary Clinton, foreword by Julian Assange. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @unjoe


10 comments for “Another Regime in ‘French Africa’ Is Toppled

  1. Greg Grant
    August 30, 2023 at 22:29

    The U.S. will find a way to make sure none of these revolutions come to anything.
    When France couldn’t handle Vietnam, who rolled in to make sure nothing good came of that?
    Just like Obama made sure nothing could come from the Arab Spring.
    Not to mention Libya, with plans on freeing Africa from Western monetary hegemony.
    Obama made 100% sure that didn’t happen, with devastating costs to Libya and humanity in general.
    He should be doing life without parole for that crime, alongside Bush and about 100 other politicians (including Biden) for what they did to Iraq.
    I mean everybody knows those crimes were some of the most blatantly illegal war crimes of our age.
    So why are these so-called men walking free?

  2. Altruist
    August 30, 2023 at 12:57

    The French neo-colonial empire seems to be crumbling rapidly. Général Lyautey will be turning in his grave.

    Interesting what the position of Algeria will be in the brewing strife in the Sahel. On the one hand, the country is anti-imperialist; on the other, it has new major gas markets in Europe, replacing Russia.

  3. Jeff Harrison
    August 30, 2023 at 12:45

    It is interesting that the former colonies are going down like 10 pins whilst the communist countries did not. All of these former colonial powers are donating their weapons to the black hole of Kiev and won’t have many to go attacking anybody else.

  4. Lois Gagnon
    August 30, 2023 at 11:39

    Africa is throwing off its chains imposed on it by the colonialist exploiters of the North. Long overdue and wonderful to see.

  5. August 30, 2023 at 10:34

    Remember the old domino theory? It has a new anticolonial incarnation in the area France has been looting for decades. American blacks should take note as to just who its political allies are and who really exploits black people all over the world. The so called “democracies” imposed on Africans have nothing to do with popular governance but rather with institutionalized electoral fraud and corruption, something American voters may have to get used to at home as well as abroad.

    • Robert
      August 30, 2023 at 21:26

      Yes, the Domino Theory seems to be in play. It might be a stretch to equate these 2 recent coups to the rise of the BRICS, but my instincts tells me that there is a connection. I think the BRICS meeting in South Africa and the addition of 6 countries into that alliance will be looked at as a very consequential event.

      At minimum the stronger BRICS alliance will curtail the ability of the US to meaningfully sanction countries at the drop of a hat. And for the world at large, that is a good thing.

  6. Drew Hunkins
    August 30, 2023 at 10:18

    “After the coup of French-installed President Ali Bongo in Gabon, a Rothschild-funded mining company has SUSPENDED ALL operations.”


    • Valerie
      August 30, 2023 at 10:32

      Great isn’t it Drew. They’re going down like nine pins. And the Libyan foreign minister has fled the country after her “not so secret” meeting with her Israeli counterpart.
      We are certainly living in interesting times.

    • Litchfield
      August 30, 2023 at 21:50

      It is not clear to me what to make of the Rothschild factoid.

      Is this seen as an admission of defeat by Rothschild?

      Or is it intended as a kind of punishment?

      Or has the company been nationalized?

      Can we be informed of the company name?

      • Hodge
        September 1, 2023 at 17:28

        Hi, well met.
        Mining operations resumed the following day, with the resumption of rail service.
        I think financiers should expect a free Gabon to control their own resources. The new situation will stabilize before the new government begins to make decisions about what to nationalize.
        The French mining company is named Eramet. I do not immediately confirm any financial ties to the Rothschilds.

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