U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken addresses members of the press on the sidelines of the 78th United Nations General Assembly at the Lotte Palace Hotel in New York City, U.S., September 22, 2023.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken addresses members of the press on the sidelines of the 78th United Nations General Assembly at the Lotte Palace Hotel in New York City, U.S., September 22, 2023. REUTERS/Bing Guan/File Photo

US pauses Gabon aid after coup

The United States is pausing certain foreign assistance programs benefiting the government of Gabon following last month's coup, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

By Kanishka Singh

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is pausing certain foreign assistance programs benefiting the government of Gabon following last month's coup, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement released by the U.S. State Department on Tuesday.

THE TAKE

The U.S. is holding back assistance that might aid the Gabon government but continuing operational activities in the country, including diplomatic and consular operations supporting U.S. citizens.

The move is in line with steps taken by Economic Community of Central African States, the African Union, and other international partners.

KEY QUOTE

"The U.S. government is pausing certain foreign assistance programs benefiting the government of Gabon while we evaluate the unconstitutional intervention by members of the country’s military," Blinken said.

CONTEXT

* Army officers in Gabon seized power on Aug. 30, annulling an election minutes after an announcement that President Ali Bongo had won, which they said was not credible. Bongo had been in power since 2009.

* The junta has promised to oversee free and fair elections, but has not given a precise timetable for organising them.

* A 24-month transition to elections in Gabon would be "reasonable" after last month's coup, junta-appointed Prime Minister Raymond Ndong Sima was quoted as saying by French news agency AFP earlier this month.

* The Bongo family's dynastic rule in the Central African oil producer had created widespread discontent, with critics saying the Bongos did little to share Gabon's wealth with its 2.3 million people.

* The African Union suspended Gabon's membership following the coup.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Sonali Paul)

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