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Military Seizes Power In Mineral-Rich Gabon

Elections in Gabon have ended in a coup, with the country’s military leaders seizing power following an announcement that President Ali Bongo–a member of a family that has controlled the Central African nation for over 50 years–had won a third term in office. 

As of Wednesday morning, all state institutions had been dissolved, with General Brice Oligui Nguema appearing to have been installed as the leader of the junta. 

The coup in Gabon follows a coup in Niger in July. 

Ali Bongo assumed power in Gabon in 2009, replacing his father, who had served as president since 1967. The Bongo family’s tenure has been unstable, particularly since 2016, when the first disputed election spread further unrest and led to a failed coup three years later. The coup in Niger possibly emboldened military leaders during an election year. 

Media have shown hundreds of people celebrating the coup in the streets of the capital city, where opposition to the Bongo family has grown over the decades, largely because the country’s oil and mineral wealth is thought to have been hoarded by the Bongos. 

Gabon is an oil-producing country and OPEC’s smallest member, with around 200,000 bpd of output, though its oil industry has been in a state of decline since 2014. While oil production in the country has not been affected by the coup, oil prices ticked up early on Wednesday, partly on concerns of the potential for some supply loss. Brent crude was trading up around 0.70% at 10:30 a.m. ET. 

The Carlyle Group’s Assala Energy, which produces oil in Gabon, told Reuters that output had not been impacted by the coup. 

Gabon is already rich in other minerals, including Manganese. Gabon is home to the world’s second-largest deposit of Manganese and is its third-largest producer. The country is also home to gold and iron deposits. 

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By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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