The military announced on Wednesday to put “end to the regime in place” in Gabon, a coup d’état targeting outgoing President Ali Bongo, in power for 14 years and whose re-election had just been announced overnight.
Just after the official announcement during the night of Mr. Bongo’s victory with 64.27% of the votes, a group of a dozen soldiers appeared on the screens of the Gabon 24 television channel, housed within the Gabon 24 television channel. the Presidency.
“We, the defense and security forces, united within the Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions (CTRI), on behalf of the Gabonese people and guarantor of the protection of institutions, have decided to defend peace by putting an end to the regime in place »announced one of these soldiers, a colonel of the regular army, in a statement also subsequently broadcast on the state channel Gabon 1ère.
“To this end, the general elections of August 26, 2023 as well as the truncated results are canceled”he added.
Among the soldiers were members of the Republican Guard (GR), an elite unit and praetorian guard of the presidency recognizable by their green berets, as well as soldiers from the regular army and police officers.
This coup d’état took place in the middle of a curfew and while the internet was cut off (it would have been reactivated this Wednesday morning at around 7 a.m.) throughout the country, two measures decreed by the government on Saturday before the closure of the polling stations in order to ward off possible “violence”, according to him.
Shortly after reading the military’s statement, AFP journalists heard automatic weapons fire in several neighborhoods of Libreville. These sporadic shots quickly stopped.
The military considered that the organization of the elections had not “not met the conditions of a transparent, credible and inclusive election so hoped for by the Gabonese people”. They denounced “irresponsible, unpredictable governance, which results in a continued deterioration of social cohesion, risking leading the country to chaos”.
“All institutions of the Republic are dissolved, in particular the government, the Senate, the National Assembly, the Constitutional Court, the Economic, Social and Environmental Council, the Gabonese Elections Center”and the borders of Gabon will remain “closed until further notice”, the perpetrators of the coup announced again.
55 years and then gone
In the capital, in the affluent Akanda district, not far from Ali Bongo’s residence, residents stood on their doorsteps, without daring to go out, according to an AFP staff member, laughing soldiers of an elite unit asking them to return home.
In Port-Gentil, the economic capital, on the Place du Château d’eau in a very popular neighborhood and traditional bastion of the opposition, hundreds of people went out by car honking their horns to the cry of ” THE Gabon is released “. Some dance with uniformed police and military personnel, reported Ousmane Manga, an independent journalist contacted by telephone by AFP.
Mr. Bongo, 64, was elected in 2009 after the death of his father Omar Bongo Ondimba, who had ruled Gabon for more than 41 years. The opposition has regularly denounced the perpetuation of a “Bongo dynasty” of more than 55 years to date.
Ali Bongo was seeking a third term, reduced from 7 to 5 years, in Saturday’s elections which brought together three ballots, presidential, legislative and municipal.
A few moments before the military burst onto the screens, the official results of the elections had been broadcast in the middle of the night, at 3:30 a.m. (02:30 GMT), on state television without any prior announcement.
According to these results, Mr. Bongo’s main rival, Albert Ondo Ossa, only received 30.77% of the votes in the presidential election, and the twelve other candidates only received crumbs.
Albert Ondo Ossa had denounced “frauds orchestrated by the Bongo camp” two hours before the close of voting on Saturday, and then already claimed victory. On Monday, his camp urged Mr. Bongo to “organize, without bloodshed, the transfer of power.”
Mr. Ondo Ossa, 69, was chosen only eight days before the election by the main platform of the opposition parties, Alternance 2023, after a bitter struggle between six contenders.