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13 Nov, 2023 09:28

African bank lifts sanctions on former French colony

The move will allow Gabon to continue receiving loans and grants for projects
African bank lifts sanctions on former French colony

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has lifted financial sanctions imposed on Gabon in response to the removal of President Ali Bongo in a coup in August, the new military authorities announced on Friday.

The decision was taken at the beginning of last week following successful negotiations with the AfDB, “marking a major turning point in restoring trust with the multinational financial institution,” the Gabonese Economy Ministry said a statement on X (formerly Twitter).

I welcome the lifting of the AfDB sanctions against Gabon and the resumption of disbursements in favor of the various projects. This decision rewards weeks of work in order to calm relations between Gabon and its donors,” wrote Economy Minister Mays Mouissi.

According to the minister, separate rounds of talks between the Gabonese interim government and senior AfDB officials were held in October in Morocco and the Republic of Congo.

The coup leaders also repaid Gabon’s debts to the continental financing body at the end of last month, which restored confidence and facilitated the removal of sanctions, Mouissi added.

The AfDB is the first international institution to lift its punitive measures against Gabon since the coup, allowing the Central African country to continue receiving loans and grants for its projects.

Gabonese soldiers led the coup on August 30 that prevented Bongo from serving a third term as president. The ousted leader had spent two terms as president since 2009, following the death of his father, Omar Bongo, who had ruled Gabon for more than four decades.

The former French colony’s membership in both the African Union’s Peace and Security Council and the Economic Community of Central African States was suspended in response to the military takeover.

The US, which only concluded that the power grab was a “coup d’état late last month, has also suspended foreign aid to the Gabonese military rulers.

President Joe Biden announced two weeks ago that Gabon, along with three of its neighbors, including Niger, will no longer benefit from the African Growth and Opportunity Act trade program, which provides duty-free access to the US market.

Biden claimed Gabon and Niger, also a former French colony where the military took control in July, have failed to make consistent progress toward the protection of political pluralism and the rule of law.

Meanwhile, France announced the resumption of military operations in Gabon, which had previously been suspended, in September, while cutting ties with the coup leaders in Niger.