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US suspends aid programs for Gabon after coup

Reuters  — 

The United States is holding back assistance that might aid the government of Gabon following last month’s coup, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement released by the US State Department on Tuesday.

The US will however continue operational activities in the country, including diplomatic and consular operations supporting US citizens.

“The US government is pausing certain foreign assistance programs benefiting the government of Gabon while we evaluate the unconstitutional intervention by members of the country’s military,” Blinken said.

The move is in line with steps taken by Economic Community of Central African States, the African Union, and other international partners.

Army officers in Gabon seized power on Aug. 30, annulling an election minutes after an announcement that President Ali Bongo had won, which they said was not credible. Bongo had been in power since 2009.

The junta has promised to oversee free and fair elections but has not given a precise timetable for organizing them.

A 24-month transition to elections in Gabon would be “reasonable” after last month’s coup, junta-appointed Prime Minister Raymond Ndong Sima was quoted as saying by French news agency AFP earlier this month.

The Bongo family’s dynastic rule in the Central African oil producer had created widespread discontent, with critics saying the Bongos did little to share Gabon’s wealth with its 2.3 million people.

The African Union suspended Gabon’s membership following the coup.