Few resources and many concerns

Avoiding waste and inefficiency, as in the case of the “110% Superbonus”, which has produced «the biggest scam to the detriment of the State». These would be, according to Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, the government’s priorities for outlining the resources on which to build the next budget measure. In the first meeting of the Council of Ministers after the summer break, the Prime Minister wanted to emphasise that the available resources are «few». How many, in fact, is yet to be understood. As Economy Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti also pointed out, much will also depend on the progress of negotiations at European level on the new Stability Pact. In order to make cash, he also added, the road of privatizations, also urged by Forza Italia, is not excluded, because «there could be holdings from which it is necessary to disinvest». In any case, the Budget Law will come into focus after the majority meeting scheduled for Wednesday 6 September: for now, Meloni has limited herself to clarifying the directives to be followed and the stakes to be set, all under the banner of prudence.

If on a domestic level the waters still seem to remain calm after an uneventful summer, the focus of the weekly analysis is on foreign countries, where, on the other hand, the coup phenomenon has become increasingly frequent in recent months. A significant enough number to almost make one imagine a Wagner domino in Francophone Africa: after the failed “putsch” in Russia by Evgheny Prigozhin’s mercenaries on 24 and 25 June, the coup d’état in Niger on 25 July by the presidential guard against pro-Western President Mohamed Bazoum, and a few days ago, a week after Prigozhin’s death, the coup in Gabon against President Ali Bongo Ondimba, supported by Paris. In the latter case, in particular, the coup took place within hours after the Electoral Commission announced the re-election of Ali Bongo, in his third term. In reply, the Praetorian Guard annulled the vote, dissolved all the institutions of the Republic, imposed a curfew and closed the borders until further notice.

There was an immediate international reaction, with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres calling on all those involved in the coup to exercise «restraint, engage in talks, guarantee the rule of law and respect for human rights» and expressing firm condemnation of the military leadership’s intervention in the country. France also took a strong stance, repeatedly condemning the incident and advising its compatriots in the African country to “not leave home” in the words of Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne. All this while Marine Le Pen continues to urge Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna to provide clarification on France’s doctrine on relations with Gabon and on the coherence of French policy in Africa: «In the face of the incompetence that characterizes your African policy, can you clarify what is the doctrine on relations with this historically friendly country?».

As in Niger, France was indeed a major player in the African country’s economy. But if in Niamey in Niger the putsch was greeted by a part of the population waving Russian flags and praising Vladimir Putin, in Libreville in Gabon the situation looks very different. Pascal Boniface, political scientist and founder-director of Iris, the French Institute of International and Strategic Relations, told Tullio Giannotti, ANSA’s Paris correspondent: «There is a common thread linking the five coups d’état in recent months in West Africa – Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Chad and Niger-. But what is happening in Gabon is different from previous cases: rather than an outbreak of anti-French hostility, we are witnessing an uprising against a corrupt regime that has remained in power for over 50 years». In Niger in a security crisis, with Wagner’s shadow behind the military coup, an anti-French and anti-Western reflex emerges, with the expulsion of the Paris ambassador. In Gabon, the international context is less clear, and Paris’s support for the Bongo has been considerably weakened over time.

The overall picture is quite complicated, the African continent is also central to the foreign policy strategies of the Italian government, which is observing the situation while waiting to see what consequences it may have on our national interests, from the economic to the security front.