In Gabon French and Gabonese troops on Sunday (4 December) wound up eight days of military manoeuvres, codenamed 'Estuary 77'.
In Gabon French and Gabonese troops on Sunday (4 December) wound up eight days of military manoeuvres, codenamed 'Estuary 77'. Staged in the northwestern and central province of Esturay and Middle Ogooue, the manoeuvres were to test Gabonese responses to military emergency.
SYNOPSIS: On the final day, Gabonese President Albert-Bernard Bongo decorated the commander of the participating French forces, General Duval, and other officers. Troops from Gabon's land and sea forces, and members of the presidential guard took part in the exercises. The daily newspaper. L'Union, described the French participants as 'units recently landed and already based at Camp de Caulle, Libreville'.
The ceremonial parade was a formal conclusion to the manoeuvres, which were staged under defence agreements the two countries had signed to protect Gabon at any time of military crisis. A former province of French Equitorial Africa, Gabon gained internal autonomy in 1957 and three years later, became independent. France intervened and restored the original president, Leon Mba, after he had been deposed in 1964.
President Bongo has pursued a policy of close co-operation with France since he came to power ten years ago. Gabon continues to rely heavily on investment and aid from France, which dominates her foreign trade, especially as a customer for uranium. France supplied four Mirage fighters for Gabon's small airforce. Radial African states have criticised the strong French influences, but, during the past three years, President Bondo has taken steps to lessen this influence.