Army officers have announced their assumption of power on Gabonese national television.
Amid swirling controversy surrounding the recent presidential election in Gabon, the country’s military has taken the drastic step of nullifying the vote results, which had previously awarded President Ali Bongo a new term in office. Adding fuel to the political fire, the president has been placed under house arrest and his son has been detained on accusations of treason.
In a shocking development, military personnel announced on Wednesday morning that the election results had been overturned and the country’s government institutions had been abolished. The coup leaders also closed the borders of Gabon indefinitely, causing widespread uncertainty and unrest. The situation is rapidly unfolding, and the implications are yet to be determined.
President Bongo has been removed from power and General Nguema will take over as leader. Investigations and potential legal proceedings are in the works for certain officials. This is the latest in a series of coups in the region, although the underlying causes are different from the other coups, which were primarily motivated by concerns about terrorism and security. This coup appears to be motivated by dissatisfaction with the government’s response to civilian needs and concerns. It’s a concerning development for the stability of the region and the protection of civilian populations.
people took to the streets to celebrate, but were told to stay clear of strategic areas. Other cities also reportedly had celebrations. The internet shutdown and subsequent restoration, plus the imposition of a curfew, suggest that the takeover is being tightly managed.
Allegations of electoral fraud in Gabon have been a persistent issue during Bongo’s tenure, and there was controversy over changes made to the voting process before the latest election. He took over from his father in 2009, but then suffered a serious stroke in 2018, which led to questions about his ability to govern effectively. And then there was that coup attempt in 2019 that didn’t pan out, and the soldiers involved ended up in prison.