Gabon: Sure Cure for Sterility

"Sterile agitation," sniffed Charles de Gaulle when tiny Gabon's 400-man army rose against its President last month. The coup, De Gaulle decided, had no popular support, so into the mineral-rich West African republic roared hundreds of tough French paratroopers. Overnight, De Gaulle's old, autocratic friend Leon Mba was back in power. It looked so simple, but. by last week Charles de Gaulle had learned something even simpler: nothing cures an African nation of political sterility like high-handed intervention.

At the outset, Gabon's 450,000 citizens couldn't have cared less about the coup. But the combination of French steel and Mba's flinty...

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