Gabon: France calls for calm after 50 years of support to the Bongo regime

8 September 2016 by Survie

Voting for the presidential election in Gabon took place on Saturday 27th August. While Ali Bongo seems to have lost the election, according to results produced by the opposition at the exit polls, he decided, as in 2009, to impose himself by force.

Since Wednesday evening, various events were violently suppressed by military and police forces. If the death toll is impossible to determine at this time because of movement restrictions coupled with Internet blackouts, it turns out that Ali Bongo doesn’t just use to tear gas but orders to use live ammunition as well as heavy weaponry, shooting from helicopters.

The French government today called for an end to the violence, and the publication of results office by office, taking a supportive stance on democracy. Survie recalls that France has supported, for 50 years and until today, the Bongo clan system. Already in 2009, Ali Bongo could never have succeeded in gaining power without the zealous involvement of various French actors [1]. France continued to support the regime, granting it numerous instances of diplomatic recognition (receptions at the Elysee, visits from French ministers). This support is expressed mainly via military and security cooperation with the Gabonese army and police, the very ones who currently kill Gabonese civilians. In 2014, the French Government boasted of having trained 4000 Gabonese military, who mainly use French equipment.

Even today, many French volunteers are present within the Gabonese security forces, including from the presidential guard, keystone of the security system of the ruling clan. The commander of the Gabonese national police, Jean-Thierry Oye Zue announced this morning to AFP that over 200 people have been arrested since last night. This commander is, for example, even today, assisted by a special adviser who happens to be a French police commander, Christophe Blu. Moreover, according to some reports, the Gabonese army currently uses French weapons, including Famas assault rifles, to shoot Gabonese civilians.

As Survie highlighted in its report “Elections in Franceafrica”, published in April 2016, French support was maintained even though many elements had indicated an armed recovery of the regime for several years (recruitment in the police and the army on an “ethnic” basis, weapons purchases, etc.), which intensified with the approach of the presidential elections.

Survie, in recent weeks, has also repeatedly questioned the government on the increasing repression of opposition activists by the regime, as well as numerous cases of arbitrary arrests [2], and warned against the risk that Ali Bongo is again trying to force his way into power with this new election. France has never condemned this repression, nor suspended military and security cooperation as we have asked for many times.

“Unconditional partner of the Bongo regime for 50 years, French diplomacy, which is notable for its silence on other renewal polls of dictatorial regimes in recent months (Djibouti, Congo, Chad) can hardly appear both as an advocate for vice and for virtue” declared Thomas Bart, spokesman for Survie. “The current diplomatic gestures remain only opportunistic posturing as the French government will not announce the shutdown of its military and police cooperation, which it should have done long ago”.

Translated by Jenny Bright, [Tlaxcala.]

Source : Survie


[1See in particular Survie’s report, “Elections in Franceafrica. Congo, Djibouti, Chad, Gabon.” p.50 April 2016.

[2See in particular our two open letters, the first addressed to François Hollande and published on 22 July:“French Cooperation and security crackdowns in Gabon” and the second on August 13“Gabon: Open letter to Jean-Marc Ayrault, Foreign Minister. Military and security cooperation with Gabon” available on our website


est une association loi 1901 créée en 1984 qui dénonce toutes les formes d’intervention néocoloniale française en Afrique et milite pour une refonte réelle de la politique étrangère de la France en Afrique.

Survie, via ses groupes de recherche, produit une analyse régulière de la politique française en Afrique et publie des brochures et des livres.

Other articles in English by Survie (1)



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