Military officers in Gabon have seized power and put President Ali Bongo under house arrest, shortly after the country’s election body announced Bongo had secured a third term in office.
The military officers, claiming to represent the armed forces, declared on television that the election results were null and void. They also announced the dissolution of state institutions, the closure of borders, and the cancellation of the recent vote.
This major political upheaval threatens to end the Bongo family’s more than half-century reign in power. Brice Oligui Nguema, a military officer who appears to be leading the coup, told French newspaper Le Monde that he and other generals would meet to select someone to head a transitional government.
News of the military intervention was met with celebration by hundreds in Gabon’s capital, Libreville. However, it drew condemnation from the African Union and France, Gabon’s former colonial ruler, which has troops stationed there.
If successful, this would be the eighth military coup in West and Central Africa since 2020, following coups in Niger, Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, and Chad. This trend is seen as a setback to democratic gains made since the 1990s and raises concerns among foreign powers with strategic interests in the region.
The military officers, known as The Committee of Transition and the Restoration of Institutions, cited a severe institutional, political, economic, and social crisis in Gabon as their basis for action. They denounced the August 26 vote as not credible and claimed to have arrested the president’s son, Noureddin Bongo Valentin, and others on charges of corruption and treason.