Coup d'état in Gabon after presidential elections

A group of soldiers took over the national television broadcast and president's office when the former president was about to declare his victory in the election.

A group of soldiers took control of the national television broadcast in Gabon and declared the "end of the current regime" in the country. This new coup d'état in Africa threatens the government of Ali Bongo, the president of Gabon who has been in power for 14 years and who just won the latest elections for another term.

Bongo gave the official results of the elections on television, 64.27% in his favor, when a group of armed soldiers appeared on the Gabon 24 channel on Tuesday. The television headquarters is located in the same as the office of the president in the nation's capital of Libreville.

The uniformed men read a statement on the television channel.

We, the defense and security forces, meeting within the Commission for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions (CTRI), on behalf of the people of Gabon and guarantors of the protection of the institutions, have decided to defend peace by putting an end to the current regime. To this end, the legislative elections of Aug. 26, 2023 and the truncated results are annulled.

Along with these words, the military of the so-called Commission for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions (CTRI) also announced that the country's borders would be closed. The soldiers behind the coup also announced the dissolution of all state institutions, including all government, legislative and judicial bodies, as well as electoral supervisory authorities.

According to AFP, the soldiers who appeared on screen to read the statement are part of the Republican Guard, the body that provides security for the Gabonese president. They can be recognized by the color of their green berets. They were accompanied by some other civilians and military personnel.

According to AFP, just after the reading of the statement on national television, some brief shootings broke out in different neighborhoods of the capital, though they did not have major consequences in the hours to follow.

Accusations of electoral fraud

France, a former colonial power of Gabon, said it is closely monitoring the situation. Some French companies operating in the country have ceased activity pending stabilization of the government.

Several analysts predicted the possibility of a coup in Gabon, due President Ali Bongo's waning popularity. Bongo, 64, nonetheless decided to run for a third term after 14 years in power. Gabonese citizens announced that government authorities had cut off internet access during voting and counting days. The government claimed that this was a measure to prevent potential disturbances from outside actors.

In the videos circulating on social media, citizens can be seen taking to the streets to support the military coup. In more videos, civilians are seen vandalizing election posters featuring the face of President Bongo.

Amid the chaos, one Army leader seems to stand out from the rest. This is General Brice Clotaire Oligui-Nguema, whom the military is propping up as the next president. He is the commander of the Republican Guard, the body at the center of the coup, and also former head of the country's intelligence services.