Gabonese military officers announce they have seized power

A group of senior Gabonese military officers appeared on national television in the early hours of Wednesday and said they had assumed power, minutes after the state electoral body announced that President Ali Bongo had won a third term.

Appearing on the Gabon 24 television channel, the officers said they represented all of the Central African nation’s security and defense forces.

They said the election results were cancelled, all borders closed until further notice and state institutions dissolved.

Loud shots were heard in the capital Libreville, a Reuters journalist said, after the television appearance.

There was no immediate comment from the OPEC member nation’s government.

There were no immediate reports on the whereabouts of Bongo, who was last seen in public when he cast his vote in Saturday’s election.

“On behalf of the Gabonese people… we have decided to defend peace by putting an end to the current regime,” the officials said in a statement.

Appearing on the Gabon 24 television channel, the officers said they represented the entire security and defense forces of the Central African nation.Gabon 24/AFP via Getty Images

As one officer read the joint statement, about a dozen others stood silently behind him in military fatigues and berets.

The military presented themselves as members of the Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions.

The state institutions that they declared dissolved included the government, the Senate, the National Assembly, the Constitutional Court and the electoral body.

If successful, the coup would mark the eighth in West and Central Africa since 2020.

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Coups in Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Chad and Niger have undermined democratic progress in recent years.

There were no immediate reports on the whereabouts of Bongo, who was last seen in public when he cast his vote in Saturday's election.There were no immediate reports on the whereabouts of Bongo, who was last seen in public when he cast his ballot in Saturday’s election.STR/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Last month, the military seized power in Niger, shocking the entire Sahel and absorbing global powers with strategic interests at stake.

Tensions were rising in Gabon amid fears of unrest after Saturday’s presidential, parliamentary and legislative vote in which Bongo sought to extend his family’s 56-year control of power as the opposition pushed for change in the region. , rich in oil and cocoa but poor. battered nation.

The lack of international observers, the suspension of some foreign broadcasts and the decision by authorities to cut internet service and impose a nationwide nightly curfew after the election had raised concerns about the transparency of the electoral process.

There were no immediate reports on the whereabouts of Bongo, who was last seen in public when he cast his vote in Saturday's election.The state institutions declared dissolved included the government, the Senate, the National Assembly, the Constitutional Court and the electoral body.

Gabon thwarted a military coup attempt in January 2019 after soldiers briefly seized the state radio station and broadcast a message saying Bongo, who had suffered a stroke months earlier, was no longer fit for duty.

The situation was restored hours later, after two of the alleged coup leaders were killed and others arrested.

IN POWER SINCE 2009

The Gabon Electoral Center said earlier on Wednesday that Bongo won the election with 64.27% of the vote and his main rival Albert Ondo Ossa came in second with 30.77%.

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Bongo, 64, who succeeded his father Omar as president in 2009, had faced 18 challengers, six of whom backed Ondo Ossa in an effort to narrow the race.

The government has said the internet blackout and curfew are necessary to prevent the spread of fake news and protect public safety. Bongo’s disputed victory in the 2016 election sparked violent protests that set the parliament building on fire.

His team has rejected accusations of fraud by Ondo Ossa and his opposition alliance after a vote marred by the delay of numerous opening hours of numerous polling stations.

The Alternancia 2023 alliance also denounced other alleged irregularities, including that the ballot papers of its candidates had not been distributed correctly in some areas. Reuters could not independently verify the claim.

The European Union was not invited to observe these elections. EU observers previously questioned the validity of Bongo’s narrow victory in the 2016 presidential election.

On Monday, media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) expressed concern over Gabon’s internet blocking and temporary suspension of broadcasts by French international news outlets RFI, France 24 and TV5 Monde.

Tensions were rising in Gabon amid fears of unrest after Saturday's presidential, parliamentary and legislative vote in which Bongo sought to extend his family's 56-year control of power as the opposition pushed for change in the region. , rich in oil and cocoa but poor.  battered nation.Tensions were rising in Gabon amid fears of unrest after Saturday’s presidential, parliamentary and legislative vote in which Bongo sought to extend his family’s 56-year control of power as the opposition pushed for change in the region. , rich in oil and cocoa but poor. affected nation. POOL/AFP via Getty Images

“RSF denounces a series of attacks on press freedom and information pluralism, events that are likely to compromise the transparency of the general elections,” it said in an online publication.

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The opposition has challenged Bongo’s two previous election victories, alleging fraud. He first came to power in a 2009 vote following the death of his father Omar Bongo before being re-elected in 2016.

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Source: vtt.edu.vn

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