A group of 12 Gabonese military personnel has declared they have seized control of the government, dissolving all key state institutions and nullifying the recent election victory of President Ali Bongo. The foreign ministry of Italy has issued a warning for its citizens in Gabon, advising them to remain cautious.
by Ali Hassan
In a televised address, 12 military personnel from Gabon announced they have toppled the government, voiding last Saturday’s election results that had pronounced President Ali Bongo the winner. According to the BBC, the military has “dissolved all institutions of the Republic,” including the government, Senate, National Assembly, and Constitutional Court.
One of the soldiers stated on Gabon 24, a television channel: “We have decided to defend peace by putting an end to the current regime,” adding that the move comes in response to an “irresponsible and unpredictable government that is causing continuous deterioration in social cohesion and risks plunging the country into chaos.”
Reading a statement on behalf of the “Committee for Transition and Restoration of Institutions,” another military representative announced that “all institutions of the Republic are dissolved.” He continued, “We urge the population to remain calm and assure our commitment to respecting Gabon’s international obligations,” further declaring the closure of the country’s borders “until further notice.” The coup members include individuals from the Republican Guard, identifiable by their green berets, regular army soldiers, and police officers.
Automatic gunfire was reported in several neighborhoods of the capital, Libreville, during the announcement.
According to Michel Stéphane Bonda, the president of Gabon’s Electoral Center (CGE), Bongo’s primary rival, Albert Ondo Ossa, garnered only 30.77% of the votes. Ossa had claimed “rigging orchestrated by Bongo’s camp” even before the polls closed and was already declaring victory at that time. The electoral commission had announced Bongo’s re-election with 64.27% of the votes, but the opposition had described the election as fraudulent. The overthrow of the president would end his family’s 53-year rule over Gabon.
Italy Issues Warning for Citizens in Gabon
Italy’s Foreign Ministry is closely monitoring the situation in Gabon and has urged its citizens in the country to exercise “caution.” An update on the ministry’s travel advisory website reads: “Following the presidential, legislative, and administrative elections held on Saturday, August 26, 2023, on the morning of August 30, the armed forces announced a coup. A total curfew has been imposed, and internet access has been suspended across the territory. Airports are currently closed.”