Sat. Sep 30th, 2023

DAKAR, Senegal — Crowds celebrated in Gabon after mutinous troopers mentioned Wednesday they have been seizing energy with a purpose to overturn the outcomes of a presidential election, searching for to take away a president whose household has held energy for 55 years.

The coup try got here hours after the central African nation’s President Ali Bongo Ondimba, 64, was declared winner of an election marred by fears of violence.

Inside minutes of the announcement, gunfire was heard within the middle of the capital, Libreville. Later, a dozen uniformed troopers appeared on state tv and introduced that that they had seized energy.

Crowds within the metropolis took to the town’s streets to have fun the tip of Bongo’s reign, singing the nationwide anthem with troopers.

“Thanks, military. Lastly, we’ve been ready a very long time for this second,” mentioned Yollande Okomo, standing in entrance of troopers from Gabon’s elite republican guard.

Shopkeeper Viviane Mbou supplied the troopers juice, which they declined.

“Lengthy stay our military,” mentioned Jordy Dikaba, a younger man strolling along with his buddies on a avenue lined with armored policemen.

There was no phrase from the president and his whereabout weren’t instantly clear.

The personal intelligence agency Ambrey mentioned all operations on the nation’s principal port in Libreville had been halted, with authorities refusing to grant permission for vessels to go away. It wasn’t instantly clear if airways have been working within the nation.

The troopers supposed to “dissolve all establishments of the republic,” mentioned a spokesman for the group, whose members have been drawn from the gendarme, the republican guard and different components of the safety forces.

The coup try took place one month after mutinous troopers in Niger seized energy from the democratically elected authorities, and is the newest in a sequence of coups which have challenged governments with ties to France, the area’s former colonizer. Gabon’s coup, if profitable would convey the variety of coups in West and Central Africa to eight since 2020.

In his annual Independence Day speech Aug. 17, Bongo mentioned “Whereas our continent has been shaken in current weeks by violent crises, relaxation assured that I’ll by no means enable you and our nation Gabon to be hostages to makes an attempt at destabilization. By no means.”

In contrast to Niger and two different West African nations run by navy juntas, Gabon hasn’t been wracked by jihadi violence and had been seen as comparatively secure. However almost 40% of Gabonese ages 15-24 have been out of labor in 2020, in keeping with the World Financial institution.

Bongo acknowledged the widespread frustration over rising prices of residing in his Aug. 17 speech, and listed measures his authorities was making to include gas costs, make schooling extra inexpensive, and stabilize the worth of baguettes.

Gabon is a member of the OPEC oil cartel, with a manufacturing of some 181,000 barrels of crude a day, making it the eighth-largest producer of oil in sub-Saharan Africa. It’s dwelling to over 2 million folks, and is barely smaller than the U.S. state of Colorado.

At a time when anti-France sentiment is spreading in lots of former colonies, the French-educated Bongo met President Emmanuel Macron in Paris in late June and shared photographs of them shaking arms. France has some 400 troops in within the nation.

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne mentioned Wednesday: “We’re following the state of affairs in Gabon intently.″

The mutinous officers vowed to respect “Gabon’s commitments to the nationwide and worldwide neighborhood.”

When requested about Gabon Wednesday, the EU’s prime diplomat, Josep Borrell mentioned it could be mentioned by EU ministers this week. Protection ministers from the 27-nation bloc are assembly in Spain on Wednesday, and international ministers on Thursday. Borrell will chair each conferences, and Niger will even be a spotlight.

“If that is confirmed, it’s one other navy coup, which will increase instability in the entire area,” he mentioned.

Bongo’s household has long-standing ties to former colonial ruler France, relationship to the four-decade presidency of his late father Omar Bongo. These have come underneath authorized scrutiny in recent times.

A number of members of the Bongo household are underneath investigation in France, and a few have been given preliminary prices of embezzlement, cash laundering and different types of corruption, in keeping with French media reviews, pushed partly by a broader push for justice by non-governmental organizations which have lengthy accused a number of African heads of state of embezzling public funds and hiding them in France.

Bongo was searching for a 3rd time period in elections this weekend. He served two phrases since coming to energy in 2009 after the loss of life of his father who dominated the nation for 41 years. One other group of mutinous troopers tried a coup in January 2019, whereas Bongo was in Morocco recovering from a stroke, however they have been rapidly overpowered.

Within the election, Bongo confronted an opposition coalition led by economics professor and former schooling minister Albert Ondo Ossa, whose shock nomination got here per week earlier than the vote.

Each vote held in Gabon because the nation’s return to a multi-party system in 1990 has resulted in violence. Clashes between authorities forces and protesters following the 2016 election killed 4 folks, in keeping with official figures. The opposition mentioned the loss of life toll was far increased.

Fearing violence, many individuals within the capital went to go to household in different elements of the nation earlier than the election or left Gabon altogether. Others stockpiled meals or bolstered safety of their houses.

After final week’s vote, the Central African nation’s Communications Minister, Rodrigue Mboumba Bissawou, introduced a nightly curfew from 7 p.m. to six a.m., and mentioned web entry was being restricted indefinitely to quell disinformation and requires violence.

NetBlocks, a corporation monitoring web entry worldwide, mentioned web service noticed a “partial restoration” in Gabon after the coup.


Related Press reporters Cara Anna in Nairobi, Kenya, Jamey Keaton in Geneva; Angela Charleton in Paris; and Jon Gambrell in Dubai contributed.

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