Gabon Coup: Officers Say They Are Seizing Power

by Pelican Press
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A group of senior military officers appeared on television in the oil-rich Central African nation of Gabon early Wednesday and announced they were seizing power, hours after the incumbent president, Ali Bongo Ondimba, was re-elected for a third term.

The officers, who claimed to represent the major arms of the security forces, said they were canceling the election results, suspending the government and closing the country’s borders until further notice.

There was no immediate reaction from Mr. Bongo or the government. Bursts of gunfire could be heard in the capital, Libreville, shortly after the broadcast ended, Reuters reported.

“We have decided to defend the peace by putting an end to the current regime,” one of the officers said on the Gabon 24 station.

The attempted takeover followed days of mounting tensions, with Mr. Bongo looking to extend his family’s 56-year grip on Gabon with a presidential vote on Saturday that the opposition declared was fraudulent.

Mr. Bongo’s father, Omar Bongo, became president in 1967; Mr. Bongo has been in power since 2019. The national electoral authority said Mr. Bongo had won 65 percent of the vote, while his main rival, Albert Ondo Ossa, got 31 percent.

Even before the polls closed, Mr. Ondo Ossa said the election had been rigged by Mr. Bongo’s supporters.

If the military takeover succeeds, it would be the latest in a run of coups in Western and Central Africa — at least nine in the past three years, including one in Niger last month.

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