A military coup is ongoing in Gabon following controversial elections. The country has been ruled by a father and son since 1967. President Ali Bongo has ruled Gabon since 2009. His father, former President Omar Bongo ruled Gabon from 1967 to 2009.
A group of senior Gabonese military officers appeared on national television and said they had taken power, minutes after the state election body announced President Ali Bongo had won a third term.
Appearing on television in the early hours on Wednesday, the officers said they represented all security and defence forces in the Central African nation. They said the election results were cancelled, all borders closed until further notice and state institutions dissolve
During the announcement, journalists heard gunfire ring out in the Gabonese capital, Libreville.
While announcing the cancellation of the vote results one of the officers said “all the institutions of the republic” had been dissolved.
The address was read by an officer flanked by a group of a dozen army colonels, members of the elite Republican Guard, regular soldiers and others.
It came moments after the national election authority said Bongo had won a third term in Saturday’s election with 64.27 percent of the vote.
Bongo has been in power for 14 years in the oil-rich West African country.
“Today, the country is going through a serious institutional, political, economic and social crisis,” the officer said on TV channel Gabon 24.
He said the recent election “did not meet the conditions for a transparent, credible and inclusive ballot so much hoped for by the people of Gabon.”
“We have decided to defend peace by putting an end to the current regime,” the officer said, adding that he was speaking on behalf of the “Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions”.
“To this end, the general elections of 26 August 2023 and the truncated results are cancelled,” he added.
According to the results issued prior to the officers’ announcement, Bongo’s main rival Albert Ondo Ossa won just 30.77 percent of the vote.
Before polls closed on Saturday, Ondo Ossa had accused Bongo of “fraud” while claiming he was the rightful winner.
While the election was under way, Bongo’s government imposed a curfew and a nationwide internet shutdown to prevent the spread of “false news” and possible violence.
On Monday, Ondo Ossa’s campaign manager called on Bongo to hand over power “without bloodshed”, insisting a partial count had Ondo Ossa clearly ahead, without providing any proof.
This is a developing story and we will keep you updated as the events unfold