Another coup? Gabon soldiers announce annulling of elections, dissolution of institutions

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Army officers appeared on television on Wednesday, August 30 announcing that they are taking power.

The twelve (12) soldiers said that they were annulling (cancelling) the results of Saturday’s election in which President Ali Bongo had been declared the winner.

Ostensibly, the soldiers said they were dissolving “all the institutions of the republic”, even as gunfire was heard in the capital Libreville.

“After observing irresponsible, unpredictable governance resulting in a continuing deterioration in social cohesion that risks leading the country into chaos… we have decided to defend peace by putting an end to the current regime,” one of the soldiers said on TV channel Gabon 24 as reported by AFP.

He was speaking on behalf of the “Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions”.

53-year Bongo Family rule

(COMBO) This combination of pictures created on August 23, 2023 shows Gabon’s President Ali Bongo Ondimba (L) looks on as he attends a bilateral meeting with French President at Presidential Palace in Libreville, on March 1, 2023 and Albert Ondo Ossa (R) nominated candidate for the Alternance 2023 opposition grouping in Gabon speaks to the media in Libreville on August 18, 2023. -(Photos by LUDOVIC MARIN and Steeve JORDAN / AFP)

If Ali Bongo is overthrown, it would end his family’s 53-year hold on power in Gabon.

Bongo came to power in 2009 following the death of his father Omar, who had ruled the oil-rich country for 42 years.

In 2019, the Gabonese government was able to halt a coup attempt after a group of soldiers briefly took over state radio and broadcast a statement about overthrowing Bongo. The mutinying soldiers were sent to prison.

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