Gabon's Bongo names new PM after thwarted coup attempt | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 13, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, January 13, 2019

Gabon's Bongo names new PM after thwarted coup attempt

Gabon's President Ali Bongo, who has been out of the country for two months recovering from a stroke, named a new prime minister on Saturday in an apparent effort to shore up his political base days after a failed coup attempt.

The plotters of Monday's coup attempt were arrested or killed within hours of seizing the national radio station, but the move reflected growing frustration with a government weakened by Bongo's secretive medical leave in Morocco.

In a decree read by the secretary-general of the presidency on national television early on Saturday morning, Bongo named Julien Nkoghe Bekale as prime minister, replacing Emmanuel Issoze-Ngondet, who has served since 2016.

Issoze-Ngondet's tenure was marked by a sharp drop in oil output and prices that has squeezed revenues, raised debt and stoked discontent in the OPEC member state.

Oil workers' strikes have become more common, and economic growth was 2 percent last year, down from over 7 percent in 2011.

The nomination of Nkoghe Bekale, 56, who has held several ministerial posts since 2009, represents a return to a tradition begun by Bongo's father, Omar, of choosing prime ministers from the Fang, Gabon's largest ethnic group.

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