The military group that seized power in Gabon announced the appointment of General Bris Oligi Nguema, Commander of the Republican Guard, as head of state for a transitional period. The statement was made on national television, through which the military had previously announced the seizure of power in the country a few days after the presidential election. President Ali Bongo Ondimba, whose family has ruled the country for over 50 years, is under house arrest.
The military seized power days after a disputed presidential election, saying it would annul the results, close borders and dissolve state institutions. If successful, the coup will be the eighth in West and Central Africa since 2020. The last attempt to seize power in Gabon by force was made in 2019. Then it ended in failure.
Gabon's electoral body announced Saturday's election results that President Ali Bongo will remain in power for a third term, with just under two-thirds of the vote. The family of the current president, Ali Bongo, has been ruling the country since 1967. His father, Omar Bongo, served as president for more than 40 years and was convicted of corruption more than once. Ali Bongo took over from his father in 2009. In 2016, he was narrowly re-elected for a new presidential term. The elections were accompanied by violence and accusations of abuse.
“In response to irresponsible, unpredictable governance leading to a continued deterioration in social cohesion, which risks leading the country into chaos ... we decided to protect the world by putting an end to the current regime,” one soldier said, speaking on Gabon24 TV channel on behalf of the “Committee on the transition and restoration of institutions”. “We call for calm and serenity to the public, the communities of brotherly countries living in Gabon, and the Gabonese diaspora,” one of the officers said. "We reaffirm our commitment to honoring Gabon's commitments to the national and international community."
Bongo won 64.27% of the vote in Saturday's election, according to Gabon's electoral committee. Voting center chief Michel Stéphane Bonda, who announced the election results early this morning, said that Bongo's main rival, Albert Ondo Ossa, came in second with 30.77%. The opposition considered the election results rigged. Bongo's archrival Albert Ondo Ossa complained that ballots with his name were missing from many polling stations, and the coalition he represents said the ballots included the names of some of the candidates who withdrew before the election.
There were no international observers at the elections, some foreign TV channels stopped broadcasting during the voting, the authorities turned off the Internet and imposed a curfew at night throughout the country. The Reporters Without Borders group said that foreign media were banned from entering the country to cover the vote. All this raised concerns about the transparency of the electoral process.
European Union Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said the bloc's defense ministers would discuss the situation in Gabon. “If this is confirmed, then we are talking about another military coup that increases instability in the entire region,” Borrell said at a meeting of EU defense ministers in Toledo. – The whole region, starting with the Central African Republic, then Mali, then Burkina Faso, now Niger and possibly Gabon, is in a very difficult situation, and of course ministers ... should think deeply about what is happening there and how we can improve our policy towards these countries”