By Our Reporter
Coup leaders in the West African country of Gabon have named the Head of the Presidential Guard, Brice Oligui Nguema as the leader of the transition.
This is the latest development after the soldiers announced the coup early today 2023 shortly after the deposed president was declared winner of the presidential polls.
A video has gone viral showing Brice Oligui Nguema being carried aloft by hundreds of soldiers on Wednesday, hours after rebel officers said they had deposed President Ali Bongo Ondimba, according to images broadcast on state TV
The soldiers have also announced that President Bongo, 64, is under house arrest, surrounded by his family and doctors.
In the same broadcast, the military officers said one of the leader’s sons was under arrest for “treason”.
In an earlier appearance on national TV, soldiers said they were cancelling the result of the election which saw President Bongo – whose family has been in power for more than half a century.
Former colonial power France has voiced its concern over the situation, as have China and Russia – countries which both have modern-day influence in central and West Africa.
If confirmed, this would be the eighth coup in former French colonies in Africa in the past three years. And France has reiterated its own anxiety over the situation; a fresh statement from Foreign Minister Olivier Véran says Paris wants the result of Gabon’s recent election to be respected.
We are defending peace, say Gabon soldiers
Soldiers in Gabon called for “calm and serenity” as they announced they had taken over power in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
They said they had decided “to defend peace by putting an end to the current regime” soon after the electoral body declared that President Ali Bongo, who has been in power for 14 years, had won a third term
Their address on national TV, the soldiers said the elections “did not meet the conditions for a transparent, credible and inclusive ballot so much hoped for by the people of Gabon”.
France following events in Gabon ‘with the greatest attention’
French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne says Paris is following events in Gabon “with the greatest attention”.
Borne’s comment was the first reaction from France – Gabon’s former colonial power – whose influence and interests in Africa are seen as being undermined by a series of recent coups that have toppled friendly governments.
Here’s some of the quotes from the statement read on TV, as translated by the AFP news agency:
Quote Message: Our beautiful country, Gabon, has always been a haven of peace. Today, the country is going through a serious institutional, political, economic and social crisis.
Quote Message: The organisation of the general elections of 26 August 2023 did not meet the conditions for a transparent, credible and inclusive ballot so much hoped for by the people of Gabon. Added to this is irresponsible and unpredictable governance, resulting in a continuing deterioration in social cohesion, with the risk of leading the country into chaos.
Quote Message: To this end [the elections] and the truncated results are cancelled. The borders are closed until further notice. All the institutions of the republic are dissolved: the government, the Senate, the National Assembly, the Constitutional Court, the Economic, Social and Environmental Council and the Gabonese Elections Centre.
Quote Message: “We call for calm and serenity from the public, the communities of sister countries settled in Gabon, and the Gabonese diaspora. We reaffirm our commitment to respecting Gabon’s commitments to the national and international community.
Quote Message: “People of Gabon, we are finally on the road to happiness. May God and the spirits of our ancestors bless Gabon. Honour and loyalty to our homeland.”