Sep 1, 2023·edited Sep 1, 2023Liked by Ken Opalo

This is superb as always. I've cross-posted it. I'm so grateful to have access to a resource like "An Africanist Perspective" on Substack. It's consistently lucid, scholarly, data-based, well-written, and persuasive. My readers think so, too. I guarantee you that not one major newspaper or news magazine will publish an article this week that will help readers to grasp what just happened as well as this one does--which is precisely the problem with our media environment (and why we need to get the word out about you and the work you're doing here).

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Wonderful stuff, as always. Thanks.

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Thanks for pointing out the similarities and differences between coups across Africa. I learn a lot about the political side of African politics from you. I focus more on economics.

I did a back-of-the envelope calculation of income inequality in Gabon using the World Inequality database and Gabonese statistics. The top 10% of Gabonese live like the Spanish. Middle 60% live like people in Kosovo, and roughly the bottom third live like Cambodians (or to bring it home to Africa, close to its neighbor Cameroon).

In addition, despite being upper middle income -- Gabon has massive youth unemployment and adjusted for inflation, living standards have suffered for years due to oil price slumps in the 1980s-2000s and post 2014- shale revolution.

Such income inequality is unsustainable with stagnate economic performance that is contingent on exporting volatile commodities. Hopefully Gabon can and will recover and come back stronger.


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Sep 1, 2023Liked by Ken Opalo

>It is curious why the Bongos did not build a credible autocratic mass party given the resources he had at his disposal.

Or may be Omar did and Ali failed to maintain it.

Since taking over, there has been a steady stream of former regime baron switching to opposition (all of Ali's main challengers in election have been ministers under Omar) and their platforms are somehow about restoring some mythical good old days when the president wasn't so aloof, stingy and distant.

That sentiment even existed *within the ruling family*. And the stroke and the rise of his son and wife (and their entourage) as eminence grise didn't help at all.

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Two questions brother:

1. You seem to imply that the Government now is unstable. Which then seems to imply that a stable government is one with “competitive (i.e. capital financed) electoral politics” (or, Whestern styled “democracies”). If that is so, then why is competitive electoral politics declarative of “governmental stability” exclusive of the results of said government for the domestic society?

2. Would you describe how “competitive electoral politics” (especially when couched in terms of GDP per capita, as you did) doesn’t lead to Citizens United & democracy to the highest bidder?

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Please make your article much shorter.

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Very helpful piece, thank you Dr Opalo.

May I ask how you expect the regional body (ECCAS) and multilateral lenders (WB and IMF) to respond to the coup? I note that ECCAS has been softer is its response to unconstitutional takeovers than ECOWAS, do you think that will also be the case for Gabon. The IMF has furthermore engaged in funded arrangements with countries under junta rule (e.g. Chad) how do you expect the IMF to proceed with the arrangement in place in Gabon.

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