On Wednesday, a contingent of soldiers in Gabon declared a coup d’état. Asserting their seizure of power from a president whose family’s dominion has extended over the oil-rich Central African nation for decades.
The military junta broadcasted the proclamation on state television shortly after Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba controversially secured a third-term reelection. A ballot that faced disapproval from global observers. Presenting themselves as members of the Committee of Transition and the Restoration of Institutions. Twelve uniformed soldiers branded the election as fraudulent. Hence declaring the nullification of results, the indefinite closure of borders, and the dissolution of state institutions.
In a televised address, these soldiers donned in uniforms, conveyed their concerns about Gabon’s trajectory. They characterized the country as currently undergoing a profound crisis on institutional, political, economic, and social fronts. Blaming the deterioration of social cohesion on irresponsible and erratic governance, they highlighted the potential for chaos.
The soldiers called for tranquility and calm among the population, including sister communities residing within Gabon and Gabonese citizens abroad.
They reaffirmed their commitment to honoring Gabon’s responsibilities to both the national and international communities.
According to the coup leaders, they placed the president under house arrest in his residence located in the Gabonese capital of Libreville.
Ali Bongo Ondimba, aged 64, took office in 2009 after succeeding his father, who had ruled since 1967.
In response to the coup announcement, the streets of Libreville witnessed large crowds celebrating the apparent shift in authority.
Later in the day, the junta disclosed the appointment of Gen. Brice Oligui Nguema as the committee’s chairman and president of the transitional government. Nguema’s directives encompassed the restoration of fiber optic connectivity. And the resumption of international radio and TV broadcasts throughout the country. Furthermore, the junta conveyed plans to lift traffic restrictions from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. local time starting Thursday.
U.S. Embassy Issues Advisory Amid Gabon Coup; Diplomats Assess Situation
On Wednesday, the U.S. Embassy in Libreville issued a security advisory. Hence indicating that reports had been received regarding the closure of borders and the airport, with commercial flights to and from Libreville potentially suspended until further notice. The advisory urged American citizens in Gabon’s capital to remain indoors. Hence to minimize unnecessary movements, and avoid key areas such as the downtown and Presidential Palace vicinity.
An authoritative figure from the U.S. State Department informed ABC News that diplomats stationed at the U.S. embassy in Libreville were actively evaluating the unfolding situation on the ground. These diplomats were also engaging in discussions with consular representatives from allied nations. Notably, all personnel working at the U.S. embassy were accounted for, according to the official.
The coup attempt in Libreville earlier on Wednesday saw sporadic gunfire, which reportedly served as a means of intimidation rather than direct aggression. The situation was described as being in flux and under development.
Potential Eighth Coup Looms in West and Central Africa; France and African Union Respond
Should the coup prove successful, it would mark the eighth such incident to unfold in West and Central Africa since 2020. The attempt follows a recent episode in Niger, where a military junta ousted the democratically elected government. Both Niger and Gabon share strong historical ties with France, their former colonial power.
Speaking from Paris, a spokesperson for the French government publicly condemned the coup endeavor in Gabon. Further expressing France’s vigilant monitoring of the situation.
Meanwhile, the African Union, a conglomerate of 55 member states across the continent, including Gabon, issued a resolute statement on Wednesday. The statement firmly denounced the attempted coup and advocating for an expeditious restoration of democratic constitutional order within the nation