A group of soldiers announced this Wednesday that the Army has seized power in Gabon shortly after the country’s electoral commission declared the victory of the Gabonese president, Ali Bongo, in last Saturday’s elections.
“Our beautiful country, Gabon, has always been a haven of peace. Today, this country is going through a serious crisis institutional, political, economic and social,” said a group of about 12 soldiers in a message broadcast on the Gabon 24 television channel.
“In addition, it must be admitted that the organization of the electoral deadlines, known as the general elections of August 26, 2023, did not meet the conditions for a transparent, credible and inclusive votinglong awaited by the Gabonese men and women”, stressed the soldier who read the message.
They also denounced that “to this is added a irresponsible and unpredictable governance, which translates into a continuous deterioration of social cohesion, with the risk of bringing the country into chaos”.
“Today, August 30, 2023, we, the defense and security forces, gathered in the Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions (CTRI), on behalf of the Gabonese people and guarantor of the protection of institutions, we have decided to defend peace by putting an end to the current regime“, they settled.
They also emphasized that “to this end, The general elections of August 26, 2023 are annulledas well as truncated results”.
The military announced the closure of the country’s borders and the dissolution of all institutions of the Republic
Besides, the country’s borders “are closed until further notice” and “all institutions of the Republic are dissolvedincluding the Government, the Senate, the National Assembly and the Constitutional Court.
The coup leaders finally made a “call to calm and serenity to the people”, and reaffirmed their “respect for Gabon’s commitments to the national and international community”.
The message was issued after the Autonomous and Permanent National Electoral Commission (Cenap) reported that Bongo, who has been in power since 2009, won the presidential elections on the 26th with the 64.27% of the votesdespite allegations of fraud by the opposition.
Bongo, whose victory gives him a third five-year term, beat the candidate of the main opposition coalition Alternancia 2023, Albert Ondo Ossa, who came in second place with 33.77% of the vote.
Ossa had denounced “an orchestrated fraud” by the Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG) of President Bongo in the elections, which took place without the presence of international observers.
The Gabonese authorities cut off the internet connection and imposed a curfew after the celebration this Saturday of the elections, which were presidential, legislative and municipal.
More than 846,800 Gabonese were called to the polls this Saturday to vote in a day that was characterized by delays of up to several hours at the opening of some polling stations.
In these one-round elections, Bongo aspired to a third five-year termhaving seized power in 2009 after the death of his father, Omar Bongo, who has ruled the country since 1967.
This vote took place under the shadow of the last presidential elections in 2016 (then presidential terms were seven years), when Bongo defeated the opponent Jean Ping by less than 6,000 votes and the opposition denounced electoral fraud.
The complaints sparked a post-election crisis with harshly suppressed violent protestsin which the protesters went so far as to set fire to the National Assembly.
Those elections were also questioned internationally and the European Union observation mission, which this year did not send observers to Gabon, he perceived “anomalies” that questioned the process and its end result.
The announcement of the seizure of power by the military in Gabon occurred after the coup d’état committed by the Army in Niger on July 26.
Niger thus became the fourth West African country led by a military juntaafter Mali, Guinea-Conakry and Burkina Faso, where there were also coups between 2020 and 2022.