A group of top Gabonese military officers appeared on television early Wednesday morning, August 30 to announce that they had taken power following President Ali Bongo’s re-election.
Appearing on state television channel Gabon 24, the officers said they represented all security and defence forces in the Central African nation. The soldiers said the election results were cancelled, all borders closed until further notice and state institutions dissolved.
“In the name of the Gabonese people … we have decided to defend the peace by putting an end to the current regime,” the officers said.
Tensions were high after Saturday’s presidential, parliamentary, and legislative vote, which saw Bongo claim victory, extending his family’s 56-year grip on power.
The opposition claimed multiple electoral malpractices and have been pushing for change in the oil and cocoa-rich but poverty-stricken nation.
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A lack of international observers, the suspension of some foreign broadcasts, and the authorities’ decision to cut internet service and impose a night-time curfew nationwide after the poll raised concerns about the transparency of the electoral process, prompting the soldiers to take over government.
The coup makes Gabon the latest African country to be taken over by the military following Burkina Faso, Mali, and the latest Niger Republic, which has prompted threats of an invasion by the Nigeria led ECOWAS bloc.