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False! Gabon, not ECOWAS member, cannot be sanctioned for coup d’etat

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Claim: In reaction to the coup d’etat carried out by its military, ECOWAS can sanction the Gabonese government being a member of the organisation.

False! Gabon, not ECOWAS member, cannot be sanctioned for coup d'etat

Verdict: FALSE. The French-speaking country is not a member of the regional bloc and cannot be sanctioned by the organisation. The country is a member of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).

Full Text

While global attention is on the powerplay in Niger following the July 26 coup d’etat that ousted President Mohamed Bazoum, the Gabonese military also announced a bloodless takeover from Ali Bongo, who recently won a third presidential term. Before the coup, he had spent 14 years in office after taking over from his father, Omar Bongo, who ruled for 42 years before his demise in 2009.

The latest event marked the seventh country in Sub-Saharan Africa where military forces took over since 2020. To combat the crisis, the current chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Bola Tinubu -also Nigeria’s president- has talked tough on trends of coup d’etat in West Africa. So far, the organisation has followed through on their threats with harsh sanctions meted out on Niger in reaction to the military takeover. However, Nigerians disapprove of the ongoing plans for military intervention against the country.

After the Gabon coup went viral, Nigerians anticipated ECOWAS’ reaction as some expressed their thoughts in derogatory form. 

An instance is a Facebook user named Maiyegun’s Diary Politico, who likened Tinubu to the notorious Pablo Escobar. He said, “[What will Tinubu] the Pablo ECOWAS do about Ali Bongo of Gabon now? Invade Gabon?”

As of August 30, 2023, the post has gained over 1,200 reactions and 738 comments with 105 reshares. About 628 accounts noted the sarcasm by reacting to the post with a laughing emoji.

Another post by Lineaker Kigunddu asked what the organisation would do about the coup that swept the Bongo family from the office they had occupied for 56 years.

He wrote, “The Bongos (father and son) have ruled Gabon since 1967, a combined 56 years in power have finally been thrown out. Let’s see if ECOWAS will open its mouth again challenging this overtake”.

Through these posts, we discovered that people claimed the country is in West Africa and are a member of the West African organisation. This misconception prompted DUBAWA to verify the claim.

Verification

Our keyword search about the country revealed that it is in Central Africa, as against the West African narrative. The country shares its northern border with Cameroon, while the Republic of Congo and Equatorial Guinea are the other neighbours.

False! Gabon, not ECOWAS member, cannot be sanctioned for coup d'etat
Map of Gabon. Source: Google Maps.

We also checked the member states of ECOWAS and found Gabon is not one. The members of ECOWAS include Senegal, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote D’Ivoire, The Gambia, Liberia, Mali, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Guinea Bissau. Nigeria shares borders with Niger, Togo and Benin Republic, comprising 15 countries.

Gabon houses the administrative centre of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), established by the Brazzaville Treaty in 1964. The organisation is solely in charge of promoting and strengthening the economic development within the Central African region.

Conclusion

Gabon is not a West African country; neither is it a member state of ECOWAS. Gabon was a founding member state of ECCAS, so the claim is false.

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