Soldiers in oil-rich Gabon launched a coup d’état against the country’s president Ali Bongo, who is undergoing medical treatment in Morocco, BBC News reported Monday.
A soldier who identified himself as Lieutenant Kelly Obiang was heard on national radio on Monday morning, saying he and his supporters were disappointed by Bongo’s message to the nation on New Year’s Eve.
Obiang said his group was setting up a “restoration council” to restore democracy and urged his fellow soldiers to get weapons to take control of military bases, security checkpoints, airports, and other forms of transportation.
“We and security forces concerned with saving democracy and preserving the integrity of the national territory and national cohesion have decided to take our responsibility,” Obiang said, with two armed soldiers behind him.
It’s unknown if the group has wide support in the armed forces, but gunfire was heard near the state TV building in the capital Libreville, according to local journalists. Other details were not immediately known.
President Ali Bongo, in power since 2009, has been out of the country since October amid reports that he had a stroke. He recently addressed the country in a New Year’s message from a hospital bed in Morocco.
His family has ruled Gabon for 50 years, according to BBC.
Gabon joined the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries in 2016.