A group of high-ranking military officers in Gabon have taken to the national airwaves to declare their assumption of power, asserting that the weekend’s elections lacked credibility.
Appearing on Gabon24 during the early hours of Wednesday morning, the officers announced the cancellation of the elections, the dissolution of state institutions, and the closure of the country’s borders.
The officers emphasized their representation of Gabon’s security and defense forces.
The announcement swiftly followed a statement from the state election body, which indicated that President Ali Bongo Ondimba had secured a third term in office through the contested elections held on Saturday.
“We, on behalf of the Gabonese people… have resolved to safeguard peace by terminating the current regime,” expressed the officers.
According to the Gabonese Election Centre, Bongo garnered 64.27 percent of the vote, while his primary rival Albert Ondo Ossa secured 30.77 percent. Delays marred the voting process.
In response to the election proceedings, the opposition decried the situation as a “fraud orchestrated by Ali Bongo and his supporters.” The election day witnessed internet shutdowns and imposition of curfew. Additionally, France 24, RFI, and TV5 Monde, French media outlets, were prohibited due to alleged bias in covering the general elections.
Bongo, a representative of the Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG) that was founded by his father, Omar Bongo, inherited the presidency in 2009. Prior to that, his father had governed Gabon for over four decades. The younger Bongo assumed the presidency while serving as the defense minister and has since remained in power.
Tensions escalated during Saturday’s voting as the opposition pushed for change and an end to the prolonged dominance of the Bongo family over Gabonese politics.
Subsequent to the military’s announcement, gunfire was reported in the capital city, Libreville, as per accounts from Reuters and AFP news agencies.