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Another African state considers closing French military base – media

The proposal in Gabon will be discussed at an ongoing national dialogue forum on Saturday

A Gabonese political commission has called for the closure of the French military base in the Central African nation and the review of defense agreements with Paris, Radio France Internationale (RFI) reported on Friday.

According to the outlet, the proposal was presented in a report at an ongoing national dialogue in the capital, Libreville, which was convened by the Gabonese military government with the goal of returning the country to civilian rule.

The resolution will reportedly be adopted on Saturday during the plenary session of participants of the Inclusive National Dialogue (DNI), which was launched on April 2 and is expected to conclude on Tuesday.

France has about 400 soldiers stationed at its base, located north of Libreville, who are tasked with training Gabonese troops. In September, Paris temporarily suspended military cooperation with the country in response to a coup that deposed longtime president Ali Bongo. However, just over a week after halting operations, the French Armed Forces Ministry announced that it was “slowly” resuming them.

French Armed Forces Minister Sebastien Lecornu justified the move, claiming that the political situation in Libreville was incomparable to that of Niger, where Paris has repeatedly declared that it will not cooperate with what it considers an “illegitimate” military government.

Gabon’s call for an end to France’s military operations is the latest in a series of similar moves by other former French colonies in recent years. Military leaders in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger have all severed defense ties with Paris for allegedly failing to combat jihadist insurgents in the Sahel region in a decade-long counterterrorism mission.

Gabonese military ruler General Brice Oligui Nguema, who led the August coup to prevent Bongo from serving a third term after 14 years in power, stated last month that he will respect DNI decisions. He has promised to hand back power in August 2025.

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At the month-long national dialogue, which was reportedly attended by thousands of people, including opposition parties and religious leaders, the subcommittee on political institutions proposed that the mineral-rich African nation adopt a new constitution.

“They wanted a constitution that was rigid and therefore difficult to revise. The Gabonese people wanted the executive, particularly the President of the Republic, to have more time to carry out its various economic and social programs,” RFI cited the chairman of the committee, Telesphore Ondo, as saying.

April 27, 2024 at 04:10PM
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