Gabon: Why Paris’ decision to block the delivery of armoured vehicles to the Republican Guard may only be temporary

Gabon: Why Paris’ decision to block the delivery of armoured vehicles to the Republican Guard may only be temporary

Gabon has ordered four such armoured vehicles, AML90 © ARR

«The French authorities have suspended the export of armoured vehicles to Libreville,» Africa Intelligence reported in an article published on Monday 3 October.

«In Paris, the Interministerial Commission for the study of exports of war materials (CIEEMG) has just vetoed a contract to supply the Gabonese Republican Guard (GR) with four AML90 armoured vehicles by the French company Sofema, a specialist in reconditioned military equipment,» Africa Intelligence reports.

This decision was taken, according to the confidential letter, «under pressure from advisers of the Directorate of Africa and Indian Ocean (DAO) of the Quai d’Orsay» on the grounds that «this equipment would not be used for repressive purposes in case of possible outbursts that could occur on the margins of the presidential election of 2023.»

For Paris, regularly accused of interfering in the internal affairs of the countries of its former colonies in Francophone Africa, this decision comes at a very bad time. In Mali, Burkina Faso, etc., France is, rightly or wrongly, accused of involvement in areas of sovereignty of independent states.

Moreover, Gabon, which has just joined the Commonwealth, could « very easily turn », according to this specialist, «to a British supplier or others who have excellent equipment.» This would further reduce France’s influence in a country that is nevertheless strategic. Gabon is one of the few stable countries in Africa. It is a major country when it comes to climate and environment issue. And in three days it will take over the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council.

«Trial of intent»

So many reasons that this veto on the supply of armoured vehicules could be only temporary. As indicated by Africa Intelligence, «the subject could nevertheless be discussed again on the occasion of the visit of the Gabonese Minister of Defence, Félicité Ongouori Ngoubili, in Paris in mid-October.»

In the meantime, on the side of Libreville, even if they are careful not to make any official statement, several voices mention off the record a «trial of intent» and an «anachronistic decision» based on «specious arguments».

Avec LaLibreville

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