US Troops Deployed to Gabon to Watch Congo, Coup Attempt in Gabon

 In Foreign, Military

Africa – About 80 US troops were sent to Gabon  in case the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) elections should cause clashes that endangered US diplomatic facilities. On Monday morning, while President Ali Bongo Ondimba is in Morocco receiving medical treatment, a faction of Gabon’s army staged a coup attempt in Libreville.  AFRICOM spokesman John Manley stated that, “At this time there is no change in the status of our forces in Gabon,” and they have not been tasked with securing US diplomatic assets there.

A breakaway faction of the Gabon army took over the state radio station in Libreville. By later in the day, seven members of the attack had been arrested, two killed. The government prevailed in the coup attempt, and put out a statement that everything was “under control.” President Ondimba and his family have been in control of Gabon for fifty years.

Al Jazeera reported:

Gabon has foiled an attempted military coup and arrested several plotters just hours after they took over state radio in a bid to end 50 years of rule by President Ali Bongo‘s family.

The chief military rebel who led the thwarted coup bid on Monday was arrested and two of his commandos were killed, according to a statement by Gabon’s presidency. 

“The situation is under control,” the statement said.

The remaining two rebels involved in the coup attempt were also taken into custody. 

According to reports both in the BBC and Al-Jazeera, the Internet has been cut, and armed patrols in tanks are on the streets of Libreville.

BBC noted:

Gabon opposition leader Paul-Marie Gondjout has told BBC Focus on Africa that police and military are stopping and searching vehicles on main roads in the capital, Libreville.

He said that this was both reassuring and worrying, adding that “we see order, but we don’t know what is going on”.

All of these things are occurring as the US personnel are trying to watch the DRC for uprisings in their election process.

Stripes wrote:

The sudden revolt in Gabon, which has a long history of military relations with the U.S., highlights the region’s volatility. The country plays host to one of AFRICOM’s cooperative security locations, which function as bare-bones launching pads for quick-reaction troops called upon to secure U.S. diplomatic facilities in the broader region.

President Donald Trump, in his letter of notification Friday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about the U.S. deployment to Gabon, said more troops could be dispatched to Gabon, Congo or the separate Republic of Congo as needed.

The troops “will remain in the region until the security situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo becomes such that their presence is no longer needed,” Trump said.

[Note: the DRC postponed the announcement of their Dec 30 election results, which may increase tensions, according to Military Times.]

A “cooperative security location” or CSL was described like this in The Nation:

“Designed to accommodate about 200 personnel, with runways suitable for C-130 transport aircraft, the sites are primed for conversion from temporary, bare-bones facilities into something more enduring. At least three of them in Senegal, Ghana, and Gabon are apparently designed to facilitate faster deployment for a rapid reaction unit with a mouthful of a moniker: Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa (SPMAGTF-CR-AF).”

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