• Sunday, June 23, 2024
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Military officers announce coup in Gabon

Army officers [Photo Credit The Conversation] (1)

Military officers in Gabon have appeared on national television declaring they have seized power.

They said that the results of Saturday’s election, in which President Ali Bongo was declared the winner lacks credibility, adding that they represent all Gabon’s security and defence forces.

According to reports by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the military officers said they were annulling the election.

They also said all borders to the central African country will be closed until further notice and state institutions dissolved. Loud sounds of gunfire could be heard in the capital Libreville.

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The electoral commission said Bongo had won just under two-thirds of the votes in an election the opposition argued was fraudulent.

His overthrow would end his family’s 53-year hold on power in Gabon.

Twelve soldiers appeared on television announcing they were cancelling the results of the election and dissolving “all the institutions of the republic”.

One of the soldiers said on TV channel Gabon 24, “We have decided to defend peace by putting an end to the current regime.”

This, he added, was down to “irresponsible, unpredictable governance resulting in a continuing deterioration in social cohesion that risks leading the country into chaos”.

Bongo came to power when his father Omar died in 2009. In 2018, he suffered a stroke which sidelined him for almost a year and lead to calls for him to step aside.

The following year, a failed coup attempt saw mutinous soldiers sent to prison.

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The election, held last Saturday, had seen President Ali Bongo declared the winner by the electoral commission, garnering nearly two-thirds of the votes. However, the opposition had vehemently contested the results, alleging widespread fraud.

This dramatic turn of events marks a shift in the political landscape of Gabon, bringing an end to the 53-year reign of power held by the Bongo family; President Ali Bongo’s ascension to power occurred in 2009 following the passing of his father, Omar Bongo.

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President Ali Bongo’s time in office has been marked by both political and health-related challenges. In 2018, he suffered a stroke, rendering him incapacitated for nearly a year. This prompted calls for his resignation due to concerns about his ability to lead effectively. Additionally, in the subsequent year, an attempted coup failed, leading to the arrest and imprisonment of the mutinous soldiers behind the endeavor.

With this coup, Gabon becomes the eighth African country where the military has had significant influence in politics in recent years. Apart from Sudan, all other countries currently under military rule – Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Comoros, Niger and Chad – are Francophone countries.