The leaders of the coup in Gabon on Wednesday named Republican Guard chief General Brice Oligui Nguema transitional president, according to a TV statement, after the military seized control in the wake of elections.
“General Oligui Nguema Brice was unanimously appointed chairman of the Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions, chairman of the transition,” declared an officer in the presence of dozens of senior officers, according to the press release read out on Gabon 24.
Here’s what we know about General Brice Oligui Nguema so far.
A powerful figure
Nguema is one of the most influential and enigmatic figures in the country today. The son of a military officer, he trained at the Royal Military Academy of Meknes, in Morocco.
Nguema then served as Bongo’s “aides-de-camp” to a commander in former President Omar Bongo’s Republican Guard, until the former Gabonese leader’s death in 2009.
When Omar Bongo’s son Ali Bongo rose to power in October 2009, Nguema was sent to Morocco and Senegal for diplomatic missions. A decade later, he took over as the head of the guard.
Head of the Republic Guard
The guard, whose military officers are recognisable by their green berets, is responsible for presidential security. As its head, Nguema tried to fortify Gabon’s internal security systems with reforms that were seen as elongating Bongo’s stay in power.
According to local media reports, Nguema also composed a song that included the line: “I would defend my president with honour and loyalty”.