In a major development, another African nation reportedly slipped into the junta regime after Gabonese military officers announced on TV the cancellation of elections and dissolution of institutions, claiming they have taken power.
This came barely minutes after Gabon's President Ali Bongo Ondimba, who has been in power for 14 years, was re-elected for a third term in Saturday's election. Ali Bongo has been placed under house arrest after a coup in the African nation, while other officials in the government have been arrested on various charges, said the coup leaders on state television.
The National Election Commission, on Wednesday, said the President got nearly 64.27 per cent of votes cast. The government had already put a clamp on the internet in the African nation on Monday amid concerns over delays in the release of the results of national elections held over the weekend. Incumbent President Ali Bongo sought reelection for a third term against his main challenger, Albert Ondo Ossa.
“On behalf of the Gabonese people and guarantor of the protection of institutions, CTRI [the Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions] has decided to defend peace by putting an end to the regime in place,” a military officer said on the broadcast, reported CNN. The military officer said the election results would be voided and the country’s borders would be shut.
In some videos, Gabonese citizens were seen dancing and celebrating the apparent coup on the streets of its capital Libreville. Some of them people can be seen shouting “liberated!” and waving the Gabon flag in the Nzeng Ayong district of the capital, alongside military vehicles.
The imprisoned Gabonese president also called on his citizens to “make noise” after a coup attempt in the country, saying he was speaking from detention in his residence. Bongo's family has been accused of getting rich on the country's resource wealth while many of its citizens struggle to survive. The family has ruled the country for 55 years.
Similar attempt happened in 2019
It is worth mentioning this is not the first time the country witnessed such a dramatic event. Earlier in January 9, 2019, soldiers in Gabon appeared on state television saying they launched a coup to “restore democracy” in the West African country.
At that time, Lieutenant Obiang Ondo Kelly, commander of the Republican Guard, read a statement saying the military had seized control of the government. He was flanked by two other soldiers holding weapons and all were dressed in camouflage uniforms and green berets.
Oil-rich Gabon has been ruled for more than half a century by Bongo and his father, Omar, who died in 2009. Critics have accused the family of profiting from the country’s natural resources while not investing enough in basic services for the population of more than 2 million.
There have been nine coups in the past three years in former French colonies – Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger, Tunisia and now Gabon. Most recently, Niger had experienced a coup when the military junta seized power in July and ousted democratically-appointed President Mohamed Bazoum, attracting international scorn and sanctions.