There’s some news coming from Gabon, as reported in an article for the BBC by George Wright & Kathryn Armstrong. A group of soldiers has just made an appearance on national television claiming that they have seized control of the government.
They have announced the cancellation of the results from Saturday’s election, in which President Ali Bongo was declared the winner. The opposition has strongly argued that the election was completely fraudulent.
If these claims hold true it could mark the end of the Bongo family’s 53-year reign in power. It is worth noting that Gabon is an oil producer in Africa with approximately 90% of its land covered by rainforest. It became a member of the Commonwealth in June which is quite rare for a non-British colony.
Identifying themselves as members of something called the Committee of Transition and Restoration of Institutions, the Gabon coup, these soldiers represent security forces. During their televised appearance, one soldier stated that they had decided to defend peace by putting an end to the regime. He attributed disunity and potential chaos to what he referred to as “irresponsible and unpredictable governance.”
Following this broadcast, there were reports from people in Libreville (the capital) about hearing gunfire. In another city, individuals mentioned that the message regarding this takeover played repeatedly on both television channels. It seems apparent that multiple defense forces might be involved.
As for now, there hasn’t been any response, from the government and President Bongo’s whereabouts remain unknown.
The Internet connection was disconnected following the election. It was restored after the apparent coup. Additionally, a curfew is currently imposed.
Bongo has faced allegations of fraud in the last two elections. Critics have raised concerns about issues with ballots and limited access to media during this recent election as well. Furthermore, his health has been in question since suffering a stroke in 2018. There was an unsuccessful coup attempt in 2019.
While the situation remains uncertain if this military takeover succeeds it appears that Bongo’s presidency could be, in jeopardy. We will need to wait and observe how events unfold. However, it seems that the family’s rule spanning decades may have reached a dramatic conclusion.