© Reuters. Gabonese military appear on tv as they reveal that they have actually taken power following President Ali Bongo Ondimba’s re-election, in this screengrab acquired by Reuters on August 30, 2023. Gabon 1ere/Handout through REUTERS
By Gerauds Wilfried Obangome
LIBREVILLE (Reuters) – Military officers in oil-producing Gabon stated they had actually taken power on Wednesday and had actually put President Ali Bongo under home arrest, after the Central African state’s election body revealed that he had actually won a 3rd term.
In an over night tv statement, a lots senior officers stated the election outcomes were cancelled, borders were closed and state organizations were liquified. They stated they represented all Gabon’s security and defence forces.
Hundreds of individuals required to the streets of the capital Libreville to commemorate in the early morning following the over night statement, which appeared to have actually been recorded from the governmental palace, according to the tv images.
In another declaration kept reading nationwide tv, the military officers stated they had actually apprehended Bongo, who took control of in 2009 from his daddy Omar, who had actually ruled Gabon given that 1967. Opponents state the household has actually done little to share the state’s oil and mining wealth with its 2.3 million individuals.
If effective, the coup would be the 8th in West and Central Africa given that 2020. The newest one, in Niger, remained in July. Military officers have actually likewise taken power in Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso and Chad, removing democratic gains given that the 1990s.
The officers, calling themselves The Committee of Transition and the Restoration of Institutions, stated Gabon was “undergoing a severe institutional, political, economic, and social crisis”, and stated the Aug. 26 election was not transparent or reputable.
Gunfire had actually been heard quickly in Libreville after the declaration revealing the ousting of Bongo, however the streets were mostly calm prior to events appeared. Later, law enforcement officer fanned out to protect significant city crossways.
There was no instant remark from Gabon’s federal government.
Bongo, 64, was last seen in public casting his vote on Saturday. He had actually appeared in public prior to the election looking much healthier than previous uncommon and frail tv looks following his stroke in 2019.
French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne stated France, Gabon’s previous colonial ruler, was following the scenario carefully.
The coup produces more unpredictability for France’s existence in the area. It has about 350 soldiers stationed in Gabon. French forces were tossed out of Mali and Burkina Faso after coups there, in the middle of a wave of anti-French belief, and Niger’s coup leaders have actually likewise withdrawed military arrangements with France.
China’s foreign ministry required the scenario in Gabon to be dealt with in harmony and stated the individual security of Bongo, who checked out China in April, ought to be guaranteed.
Russia’s foreign ministry likewise stated it was fretted about the scenario and expected stabilisation.
Niger and other Sahel nations have actually been fighting Islamist revolts that have actually deteriorated faith in democratic federal governments. Gabon, which lies more south on the Atlantic coast, has actually not dealt with the very same obstacles, however a coup would be a more indication of democratic backsliding in the unpredictable area.
Discontent versus the Bongo household’s 56-year grip on power had actually been growing in Gabon, an OPEC member. Violent discontent broke out after Bongo’s challenged 2016 election win and there was a foiled coup effort in 2019, months after the president suffered a stroke abroad, raising doubts about his capability to rule.
“We think the soldiers will want to hang onto power and set up a national dialogue of some sort to draw up a new constitution, while they rid the bureaucracy of (Bongo’s) loyalists,” François Conradie, leading political economic expert for Oxford Economics, composed in a note.
Bongo’s critics state the household has actually stopped working to channel Gabon’s oil and other wealth towards advancement, while about a 3rd of the population resides in hardship.
Gabon produces about 200,000 barrels of oil a day, generally from diminishing fields. International business consist of France’s TotalEnergies (EPA:) and Anglo-French manufacturer Perenco.
French miner Eramet, which has big manganese operations in Gabon, stated it had actually stopped operations.
There had actually been worries of discontent after the governmental, parliamentary and legal elections, which saw Bongo looking for a 3rd term versus 18 oppositions.
His group turned down accusations of scams.
But an absence of worldwide observers, the suspension of some foreign broadcasts and the authorities’ choice to cut web service and enforce a night-time curfew across the country after the survey raised issues about the openness of vote.
The officers stated the state organizations they had actually liquified consisted of the federal government, the senate, the nationwide assembly, the constitutional court and the election body.
After the officers’ statement, web gain access to seemed brought back for the very first time given that Saturday’s vote. The federal government had actually stated the web blackout and curfew were essential to avoid the spread of phony news and to safeguard public security.
The Gabonese Election Centre had previously on Wednesday stated Bongo won the election with 64.27% of the vote and his primary opposition, Albert Ondo Ossa, had actually protected 30.77%.
Gabon’s dollar-denominated bonds fell as much as 14 cents on Wednesday prior to recuperating around 2 cents of the losses.