The Gabonese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has formally communicated to Angolan authorities the recall of its ambassador, officially termed as a “consultation.” Reports suggest that disagreements between the two nations have arisen in the aftermath of the August 30 coup, extending to the recent summit of the Central African Economic Community (CEEAC), which upheld the suspension of Gabon.
Notably, President Joao Lourenço of Angola stands as the only regional head of state that General Oligui Nguema, following the coup, has yet to meet. Officially attributed to conflicting schedules on the Angolan side, this outstanding meeting could be a contributing factor to the escalating tensions.
Several incidents appear to underlie the strained relations between Gabon and Angola. Initial reports suggest that the Angolan ambassador in Gabon displayed reservations towards the new regime following the coup. Furthermore, the absence of Gabonese officials at the November Independence Day celebrations in Libreville reportedly displeased Luanda.
Adding to the complexity, internal tensions within the CEEAC headquarters in Gabon have exacerbated the situation. Allegedly, clashes have arisen between employees and the new leadership represented by Angolan Secretary-General Gilberto da Piedade Verissimo. Over his three-year tenure, Verissimo is said to have advocated for a reevaluation of employee contracts, favoring increased Angolan representation within the organization.
This internal discord has manifested in discontent expressed through social media and messaging platforms, with accusations of destabilization being levied against the leadership. Notably, Verissimo has been an advocate for relocating the CEEAC headquarters to Malabo.
During the recent summit in Equatorial Guinea, President Lourenço’s brief appearance was reportedly marked by a vote in favor of maintaining sanctions. The CEEAC subsequently upheld the suspension of Gabon, further escalating tensions between the two nations.
As the recall of the Gabonese ambassador unfolds against this backdrop, the intricacies of diplomatic relationships and regional dynamics come to the forefront, highlighting the challenges in maintaining stability and cooperation within the Central African region.