Today, Wednesday, the leaders of the coup in Gabon said that “President Ali Bongo and his family are under house arrest,” hours after a number of senior officers in the Gabonese army announced their seizure of power.
And French media reported that “the coup leaders in Gabon announced the arrest of a number of members of the previous government on charges of high treason,” noting that “the commander of the Republican Guard in Gabon, General Brice Cloutier, joined the coup leaders.”
Meanwhile, navigation data showed that air traffic in Gabon stopped, after some military personnel seized power and closed the borders, according to navigation data.
A group of senior Gabonese army officers appeared on television in the early hours of Wednesday morning and announced the seizure of power shortly after the electoral commission announced that President Ali Bongo had won a third term.
If this coup succeeds, it will be the eighth in West and Central Africa since 2020. Coups in Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Chad and Niger, which witnessed the most recent coup in July, have undermined democratic progress in the region in the past few years.
The Bongo family has ruled the oil-producing, but also impoverished, country for 56 years. His opponents and critics say that he has done nothing significant to direct the country’s oil and other wealth to improve the lives of the population of about 2.3 million people, nearly a third of whom live in poverty.
The officers said in a statement: “Today the country is going through a severe institutional, political, economic and social crisis,” adding that the August 26 elections lacked transparency and integrity.
The officers said: “In the name of the Gabonese people… we decided to defend peace by putting an end to the current regime.”
Tension rose in Gabon amid fears of unrest after the presidential, parliamentary and legislative elections held on Saturday, during which Bongo sought to extend his rule for a third term, competing with 18 candidates, while the opposition pressed for change. His team rejected accusations of fraud.
In her comment, French Prime Minister Elisabeth Bourne said on Wednesday that her country is closely following the situation in Gabon, while delivering a speech before a meeting of ambassadors in Paris.
For his part, European Union foreign policy official Josep Borrell said that the bloc’s defense ministers will discuss the situation in Gabon, and if a coup is confirmed there, it will bring more unrest to the region. He described what is happening in West Africa as a major problem for Europe.
Speaking before a meeting of European Union defense ministers in Toledo, Spain, he added: “If this is confirmed, it will be another military coup that increases unrest in the entire region.”
The French mining company Eramit, which owns the Comelog manganese production unit in Gabon, said on Wednesday that it had suspended all its operations in the country following developments that occurred overnight in the country.