Controversial Ordinance in Gabon Allows Senior Military Officers to Have Multiple Wives

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A draft ordinance approved by the Council of Ministers permits senior military officers and generals to practice polygamy if they wish. This gesture from the transitional authorities to the military has stirred mixed reactions, with some accusing the military of promoting sexism, while others applaud the move.

Olivier Emvo Ebang, the founder of the “Oligui Must Stay” association, supports the transitional president and views this decision in favor of senior officers as a “significant advancement.”

However, the new law is not without criticism. Sidonie Flore Ouwé, former public prosecutor and president of the feminist NGO “Salon de la Femme,” deems the law discriminatory, urging for its democratization. She states, “Let it be democratized! Let all military personnel have the opportunity to marry multiple wives to avoid falling into a form of discrimination.”

In Libreville, interpretations of this ordinance vary. One individual expresses discontent, noting, “It’s a very bad decision. He cannot make this decision without consulting the base because he said when coming with the transition, that he would take care of the base first before attending to himself.” Another woman suggests, “Officially, they are monogamous, but in daily life, they have multiple wives. I believe it’s time to formalize the status of these women who are behind the scenes.” However, another man offers a contrasting opinion, stating, “An officer should only have one wife to share very sensitive information. With two wives, we don’t know where the leak will come from. In that sense, it’s not a good thing.”

The Gabonese Family Code permits a man to marry up to five women. Until now, military personnel did not have this right. The recent ordinance has sparked debates about its implications on both gender dynamics and military confidentiality.

Soukaina Sghir

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