New Delhi: Military officers on Wednesday claimed that they have seized power in oil-producing Gabon and put President Ali Bongo under house arrest, minutes after the Central African state’s election body announced he had won a third term, extending his family’s 55-year rule.
The officers declared on television that the election results were cancelled, borders were closed and state institutions were dissolved. “The elections did not meet the conditions for a transparent, credible and inclusive ballot so much hoped for by the people of Gabon,” the statement said, reported AFP.
As per the agency, Bongo pleaded for support in a video that gave no indication of when or where it was recorded.
VIDEO: 🇬🇦 Gabon president under house arrest: coup leaders on state TV
In a statement broadcast on state television, military officers announce that Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba has been put under house arrest. pic.twitter.com/jMMHO4vOaK
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) August 30, 2023
“I’m Ali Bongo Ondimba, president of Gabon. I’m sending a message to all friends that we have all over the world to tell them to make noise for… the people here who arrested me and my family,” he said. “My son is somewhere, my wife is in another place and I’m at the residence and nothing is happening. I don’t know what’s going on. I’m calling you to make noise.”
Hundreds of people took to the streets of the capital to celebrate the coup attempt against a dynasty accused of getting rich on the country’s resource wealth while many of its citizens struggled to scrape by.
Key Highlights From The Military Takeover
- In a statement, the military officers said that they had detained Bongo, who took over in 2009 from his father Omar, who had ruled since 1967.
- The officers arrested the president’s son, Noureddin Bongo Valentin, and others for corruption and treason.
- Claiming that the August 26 vote was not credible, the Gabon officers, calling themselves The Committee of Transition and the Restoration of Institutions, said the country faced “a severe institutional, political, economic, and social crisis”.
- Shortly before the military takeover announcement, the election authority had declared Bongo the election winner with 64.27% of the vote and said his main challenger, Albert Ondo Ossa, had secured 30.77%.
- The head of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, said on Wednesday he “strongly condemns” what he described as an attempted coup in Gabon.
- France, Gabon’s former colonial ruler which has troops stationed in the African nation, condemned the coup. “We condemn the military coup and recall our commitment to free and transparent elections,” French government spokesman Olivier Veran said.
- Bongo, 64, has served two terms since coming to power in 2009 after the death of his father, who ruled the country for 41 years, and there has been widespread discontent with their reign for years.
- Military officers have also seized power in Niger, Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, and Chad, erasing democratic gains since the 1990s.