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Gabon military stages coup and cancels election result

August 30, 2023 at 1:36 pm

A screen grab captured from a video shows a group of senior Gabonese army officers appear on national television and announced that they had seized power in Gabon, August 30, 2023 [Gabon National Television – Anadolu Agency]

Senior officers in the Gabonese military have seized power in the oil-rich Central African state, after announcing the coup on national television today and cancelling the result of Saturday’s election, which saw President Ali Bongo win a third term in office. 

“In the name of the Gabonese people… we have decided to defend the peace by putting an end to the current regime,” said the officers. “Today our country is going through a grave political crisis.” 

Bongo is reportedly currently under house arrest at the presidential palace. 

The officers added that they had observed an “irresponsible, unforeseeable governance that has resulted in the steady degradation of social cohesion which risks leading the country to chaos… We have decided to defend peace by putting an end to the regime in power.”

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Footage shared on social media appears to show that the coup has been broadly welcomed by members of the public who have come out in support of the military. 

According to the Gabonese Election Centre, Bongo won the election with 64.27 per cent of the votes cast, while main opposition leader Albert Ondo Ossa was in second place with 30.77 per cent. The opposition has described the outcome as a “fraud orchestrated”’ by the ruling party.

The coup in the OPEC member state is the eighth in Africa since 2020, following Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Chad and Niger. In July, members of Niger’s presidential guard seized power, and established a ruling junta. 

“If this is confirmed [in Gabon], it is another military coup which increases instability in the whole region,” said EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell. “The whole area, starting with Central African Republic, then Mali, then Burkina Faso, now Niger, maybe Gabon, it’s in a very difficult situation and certainly the ministers… have to have a deep thought on what is going on there and how we can improve our policy in respect with these countries.”

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