Following the ouster of President Ali Bongo on Wednesday, the Gabon military coup plotters have named General Brice Oligui Nguema as the junta’s transition leader.
According to local media reports in Gabon, Mr Nguema was Mr Bongo’s cousin.
The putschists announced Mr Nguema’s emergence as the interim leader in a national broadcast on the same day the junta overthrew Mr Bongo’s government despite criticism from international communities.
Mr Nguema was trained at the Royal Military Academy of Meknes in Morocco.
He served as aide-de-camp to a commander in former President Omar Bongo’s Republican Guard until 2009. After taking over the reins of power, Mr Bongo sent him on a diplomatic mission to Morocco and Senegal.
In 2019, Mr Nguema replaced Mr Bongo’s step-brother as head of Gabon’s Republican Guard, an elite force protecting Mr Bongo, his family and other high-profile figures.
On Wednesday, military officers toppled Mr Bongo’s government after he was declared winner of Saturday’s election, condemned as fraudulent.
“In the name of the Gabonese people… we have decided to defend the peace by putting an end to the current regime,” the coup plotters declared, cancelling the election result and dissolving the electoral body, national assembly and constitutional court.
From detention, Mr Bongo cried out for help, asking friends and international communities to “make noise,” raising the alarm about development in his country.