Gabon’s Military Has Seized Power In A Coup After The President Was Re-Elected For A Third Term

The coup happened minutes after it was announced that president Ali Bongo had been re-elected for a third term.

Gabon’s Military Has Seized Power In A Coup After The President Was Re-Elected For A Third Term

Gabon’s military has seized power in a coup after the president was re-elected for a third term in a contested election.

The coup happened in the early morning of Wednesday Aug. 30, minutes after the country’s electoral commission announced that Ali Bongo Ondimba – known as Ali Bongo – had been re-elected for a third term with 64.27% of the vote.

Gabon Ali Bongo Ondimba
Ali Bongo Ondimba, Gabonese president. (via Getty Images)

Gunshots were heard in the capital of Libreville, and then the military appeared on TV, saying that it was annulling the results of the election, dissolving the government and closing the country’s borders until further notice.

Gabonese soldiers gather ahead of a possible address by General Brice Oligui Nguema in Libreville on September 2, 2023. (Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images)

It said it had placed 64-year-old Bongo and his eldest son, who is also his advisor, under house arrest and that they were with family and doctors.

A military spokesperson said it had decided to take over due to “irresponsible, unpredictable governance” that risked “pushing the country into chaos”.

Gabon’s President Ali Bongoand his wife Sylvia Bongo sit on the tribune as they attend a parade during the country’s independence day celebration in Libreville. (Photo by STEEVE JORDAN/AFP via Getty Images)

After it gained independence from France in 1960, Gabon has primarily been ruled by the Bongo family.

gabon president omar bongo ondimba paris
Gabon’s President Omar Bongo was received by Prime Minister Georges Pompidou at the Matignon Hotel in Paris, France. (Photo by KEYSTONE-FRANCE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Bongo took over after his father died in 2009 after ruling for 41 years since 1967.

Gabon President Omar Bongo working session
Gabon’s former President Omar Bongo takes place for the first working session of a European Union and Africa summit 08 December 2007, in Lisbon. (Photo credit should read ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP via Getty Images)

Bongo won a second term in 2016 in a controversial election filled with reports of fraud and irregularities, which led the military to launch a coup in 2019, which failed.

gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba vote
Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba arrives to cast his vote at a polling station during the presidential election on August 27, 2016 in Libreville. (MARCO LONGARI/AFP via Getty Images)

There has been widespread discontent with Bongo and his family’s 55-year rule, which has been plagued with accusations of corruption and nepotism.

President of Gabon Ali Bongo Ondimba arrive at Bole International Airport (Photo by Minasse Wondimu Hailu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The coup is the eighth military takeover in West and Central Africa since 2020, with the latest occurring in Niger just a month ago.

People shop at the Mont Bouet market in Libreville on March 1, 2023. (Photo by LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP via Getty Images)

However, Gabon is relatively stable compared to the other countries, which have been struggling with Islamic militant extremist insurgencies – Mali and Burkina Faso – or intramilitary tensions like Sudan.

Children seat by their shelter in Goudebou, a camp that welcomes more than 11,000 Malian refugees in northern Burkina Faso. (Photo by OLYMPIA DE MAISMONT/AFP via Getty Images)

Gabon is one of Africa’s major producers of oil and a member of OPEC, an organization made up of the world’s leading oil-producing countries.

Workers carry out maintenance on an oil pipeline in Gamba, Gabon. (Photographer: Guillem Sartorio/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

However, the oil wealth is concentrated in the hands of the few, and people say the Bongo family has done little to share it among the population of 2.3 million, according to AP.

gabon off shore oil rig
An off-shore oil rig is pictured off the coast of Port-Gentil as people carry goods from a boat to the shore in Gabon.(Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

A third of the population lives below the poverty line, and nearly 40% of people in Gabon aged 15 to 24 were out of work in 2020, according to the World Bank.

woman braids the hair gabon
A woman braids the hair of a young girl just outside her dwelling inside the Centre International des Civilisations Bantu (CICIBA), in the municipality of Akanda, near the Gabonese capital Libreville, on Saturday, October 09, 2021. (Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images)

Hours after being placed under house arrest, Bongo released a video on social media calling for help.

“I don’t know what’s happening,” he said. “I’m calling on you to make noise, to make noise, to make noise — really.”

The military later named the head of the presidential guard, General Brice Oligui, as interim president.

He was seen being carried triumphantly by his troops through the streets of Libreville.

Oligui told Le Monde later in the day that the military staged the coup because the country was discontent with Bongo, his rule and decision to run for a third term.

Young men search through trash gabon
Young men search through trash at the Mindoubé dump in Libreville on June 18, 2021. (Photo by STEEVE JORDAN/AFP via Getty Images)

The coup was met with some celebrations in the country, with people hoping for a transition to a civilian government.

However, Oligui added that the military was not in a rush to hold elections.

A supporter of Gabonese opposition leader Jean Ping, holding a flag of Gabon, faces riot policemen blocking the access to the electoral commission in Libreville. (Photo by MARCO LONGARI/AFP via Getty Images)

The coup is seen as another blow to French interests in Africa, following the coups in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger – all former French colonies, the New York Times reported.

People shop at the Mont Bouet market in Libreville on March 1, 2023. (Photo by LUDOVIC MARIN / AFP) (Photo by LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP via Getty Images)

The Bongo family has remained a strong ally of France since 1960, and French companies dominate Gabon’s oil industry, according to the New York Times.

Bongo get out gabon
A man holds a placard reading “Bongo get out !” during a demonstration in support of the Gabonese people, at the Esplanade du Trocadero in Paris. (Photo by THOMAS SAMSON/AFP via Getty Images)

The coup has been widely condemned by the international community, with experts warning that it offers “no guarantee of good governance and democratic transition,” according to AP.

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