Rwanda and Cameroon have reorganized their military positions in the aftermath of the coup in Gabon. Following the coup, Cameroon’s President, Paul Biya, made changes within the country’s Ministry of Defence. These changes included reassignments in roles such as the delegate to the presidency in charge of defence, air force staff, navy, and the police.
Paul Biya came to power through a coup d’état in 1982, and his early years in office were marked by reports of oppression and human rights violations. Despite eventually allowing multiparty elections in the country, the 90-year-old president has held onto power continuously since assuming office.
Shortly after the Gabon coup, Rwanda’s defence force (RDF) announced that President Paul Kagame had approved the retirement of 83 senior officers. Additionally, Kagame sanctioned the promotion and appointment of new officers to replace the previous incumbents. Meetings were held between Rwanda’s chief of defence staff, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) ambassador to Rwanda, and the defence attaché of Cameroon to explore opportunities for enhancing defense cooperation between their respective countries.
In 2015, Rwanda amended its constitution to extend Kagame’s presidential term until 2034. Kagame, who has been in power since 2000, is one of Africa’s longest-serving presidents.
Both Kagame and Biya’s decisions to reshuffle their military positions occurred shortly after soldiers disrupted the 53-year rule of President Ali Bongo’s family in Gabon. Bongo had just been re-elected to a third term in office in the Central African nation, although the opposition had criticized the electoral process as “fraudulent.”
President Bola Tinubu of Nigeria expressed concern about the spread of “contagious autocracy” across the continent and stated his commitment to working with leaders of the African Union (AU) and international partners to address this troubling trend. Tinubu, who also serves as the chairperson of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), is actively working to restore constitutional order in Niger Republic, a country grappling with its fifth coup.
Analysts believe that dissatisfaction with long-standing leadership in some African nations is contributing to the increasing frequency of coups on the continent.