Gabon’s interim president, General Brice Olegé Nguema, on Thursday appointed Raymond Ndong Sima, an economist and fierce opponent of ousted President Ali Bongo, as interim prime minister, according to a decree read on state television.
Wendong Sima (68 years old) served as Prime Minister between 2012 and 2014 during the Bongo era, but he soon distanced himself from the regime, accusing it of mismanaging the country, and he went so far as to run against Bongo in the presidential elections in 2016 and then in 2023.
And General Olegi, who in a white military coup overthrew President Ali Bongo on August 30, one hour after the government announced that the president had won a new term, was sworn in on Monday as president for a transitional period whose duration was not specified.
The transitional president promised that “free elections” would be held at the end of this transitional period.
Also, General Ngema announced on Monday the formation of a transitional government that includes personalities from all political spectrums.
Although Ndong Sima ran in the presidential elections against Bongo, he was not the primary candidate for the opposition, which had called on the military to recognize the “victory” of its candidate, Albert Ondo Ossa, for the presidency and hand over power to him.
According to the official results announced one hour before the coup, which the military considered fraudulent, Ondo Osa received 30.77 percent of the votes, compared to 64.27 percent for Ali Bongo, who ruled the country for 14 years, succeeding his father, who preceded him in ruling it for four decades.
America : In coordination with the competent authorities, the Pentagon repositions American forces in Niger
The US Department of Defense intends to reposition its forces in Niger and withdraw non-essential personnel, out of great caution, in coordination with the relevant Nigerien authorities.
The Pentagon announced on Thursday that the army intends to reposition some of its forces in Niger and withdraw non-essential personnel “out of an abundance of caution.”
This was stated by an American military official and was reported by local media, including CNN , without mentioning his name.
An American military official confirmed that “the United States is repositioning some forces and military equipment inside Niger and will withdraw some non-essential personnel,” without specifying a number.
He explained that “the forces will move from the 101st Air Base” near the capital, Niamey, “to the 201st Air Base in Agadez,” a facility in central Niger from which the United States carries out intelligence and reconnaissance missions.
These missions had been suspended since the coup was carried out on July 26, but Washington maintained its military presence in Niger, located in central Africa.
The American official pointed out that “the transfer of forces and military equipment between the two bases took place in coordination with the competent Nigerien authorities.”
He added that the step comes “out of extreme caution, and does not represent a major change in the total numbers of military personnel inside Niger.”
There are about 1,100 US soldiers in Niger stationed at the two air bases and the Washington Embassy in Niamey.
The US military official did not specifically mention the number of non-essential personnel who would leave Niger.
The United States conducted extensive training with the Nigerien army in the past, but this cooperation stopped after the coup, while Washington continues to support regional and international efforts to get out of the crisis diplomatically instead of military intervention.
Malian government : at least 64 dead in a double terrorist attack
Two attacks by al-Qaeda-linked insurgents in northern Mali killed 49 civilians and 15 government soldiers, the country’s military junta said.
A passenger boat near the town of Timbuktu on the Niger River and a Malian military position in Bamba, further downstream in the Gao region, were targeted, according to a military junta statement read on state television. The attacks were claimed by JNIM, a coalition of Al-Qaeda-aligned armed groups.
The Malian government killed around 50 assailants while responding to the attacks, the statement said. He also declared three days of national mourning from Friday to honor the civilians and soldiers killed in the attacks.
Al-Qaeda and Islamic State – affiliated groups have nearly doubled the territory they control in Mali in less than a year, the United Nations said in a report last month, as they take advantage of the weak government and armed groups that signed a peace accord in 2015.
The stalled implementation of the peace accord and sustained attacks on communities have offered the IS group and al-Qaeda affiliates a chance to “replay the 2012 scenario” , they said.
It was the year a military coup took place in the West African country and rebels in the north formed an Islamic State two months later. Extremist rebels were ousted from power in the north with the help of a French-led military operation, but they left the arid north for more populated central Mali in 2015 and remain active.
In August 2020, the president of Mali was overthrown in a coup involving an army colonel, who led a second coup and was sworn in as president in June 2021. He developed ties with the Russian military and the Russian mercenary group Wagner, whose leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, was killed in a plane crash in Russia on August 23.
Timbuktu has been blocked by armed groups since the end of August, when the Malian army deployed reinforcements to the region. The insurgents prevent the supply of the desert city in basic products.
More than 30,000 residents have fled the city and a nearby region, according to a report released in August by the UN humanitarian agency.
These deadly attacks come as the United Nations prepares to withdraw its 17,000-strong peacekeeping mission MINUSMA from Mali, at the request of the government. The withdrawal is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
The UN deployed peacekeepers in 2013 and MINUSMA became the most dangerous UN mission in the world, with more than 300 personnel killed.
Growing insecurity in Mali has aggravated instability in the Sahel region of West Africa. Mali has seen two coups since 2020, in which the military pledged to end jihadist violence.