US suspending most foreign aid to Gabon after formal coup designation

LIBREVILLE, Gabon (AP) — The U.S. government is suspending most financial assistance to Gabon after a military coup earlier this year ousted the president whose family had ruled the nation for more than five decades, the State Department said.

The official coup d’etat designation comes nearly two months after President Ali Bongo Ondimba ‘s overthrow.

“We underscore that our humanitarian, health, and education assistance will continue to benefit the people of Gabon,” spokesperson Matthew Milller said in a statement Monday.

Foreign aid already had been put on temporary hold to Gabon as of Sept. 26, the statement said.

“We will resume our assistance alongside concrete actions by the transitional government toward establishing democratic rule,” Miller added.

Ondimba had served two terms since coming to power in 2009 after the death of his father, who ruled the country for 41 years. Another group of mutinous soldiers attempted a coup in 2019 but was quickly overpowered.

The former French colony is a member of OPEC, but its oil wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few — and nearly 40% of Gabonese aged 15 to 24 were out of work in 2020, according to the World Bank.

Earlier this month, the U.S. took similar steps in Niger, suspending counterterrorism assistance and military training more than two months after mutinous soldiers seized power.

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