Gabon government says ‘situation under control’, army rebels seized

The government of Gabon declared that it was in control after an attempted coup by army rebels Monday and that it had arrested most of those involved.

“Calm has returned, the situation is under control,” government spokesperson Guy-Bertrand Mapangou told Agence France-Presse.

Military personnel in Gabon reportedly staged a coup attempt early on Monday morning, seizing the state radio station and declaring dissatisfaction with President Ali Bongo, saying they want to “restore democracy”.

Soldiers called on the people to “rise up” and announced a “national restoration council” would be formed. According to AFP, military vehicles blocked access to the boulevard where state broadcasting offices are located.

A message was read on state radio by a person who identified himself as the deputy commander of the Republican Guard and head of a group called the Patriotic Youth Movement of the Gabonese Defence and Security Forces.

Three soldiers wearing the green beret of the Republican Guard were visible on a video of the speech circulating on social media and authenticated by AFP.

The 59-year-old leader is currently in Morocco recovering from a stroke which he suffered in October last year. The Bongo family has governed the oil-rich equatorial African nation for five decades. Bongo was elected head of state after his father’s death in 2009 and has been out of the country for more than two months. Bongo was narrowly re-elected in 2016 following a poll marred by violence and allegations of fraud.

READ MORE: Power vacuum in Gabon: End of the Bongo dynasty?

With the president incapacitated, Gabon’s constitution states that any one of the three arms of government — the executive, legislature and judiciary — can approach the Constitutional Court to confirm that a presidential vacancy exists and the speaker of the National Assembly must be appointed as the interim head of government, pending elections in 45 days.

On New Year’s Day, in an attempt to put an end to the rumours about his health, Bongo delivered a televised message in which he said he was feeling fine. In the message, he “charged the Prime Minister (Emmanuel Issoze Ngondet) to meet the expectations of the citizens” until his return to Gabon at an unspecified date.

According to media reports, soldiers say they were disappointed by the message, calling it “a pitiful sight” and a “relentless attempt to cling onto power”.This is a developing story and will be updated as more details emerge.


US President Donald Trump had deployed 80 US military personnel to Gabon in response to possible violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo following a disputed and delayed election.

In a letter to Congress, Trump said the troops were sent in response to “the possibility that violent demonstrations may occur”. The troops and supporting military aircraft would provide security to US citizens, personnel and diplomatic facilities in Kinshasa, should the need arise.

“Additional forces may deploy to Gabon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, or the Republic of Congo, if necessary for these purposes. These deployed personnel will remain in the region until the security situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo becomes such that their presence is no longer needed,” the letter stated.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more details emerge.

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Kiri Rupiah
Kiri Rupiah is the online editor at the Mail & Guardian.
Advertising

ConCourt settles the law on the public protector and interim...

The Constitutional Court said it welcomed robust debate but criticised the populist rhetoric in the battle between Busisiwe Mkhwebane and Minister Pravin Gordhan

Small towns not ready for level 3

Officials in Beaufort West, which is on a route that links the Cape with the rest of the country, are worried relaxed lockdown regulations mean residents are now at risk of contracting Covid-19
Advertising

Press Releases

Covid-19 and Back to School Webinar

If our educators can take care of themselves, they can take care of the children they teach

5G technology is the future

Besides a healthcare problem Covid-19 is also a data issue and 5G technology, with its lightning speed, can help to curb its spread

JTI off to court for tobacco ban: Government not listening to industry or consumers

The tobacco ban places 109 000 jobs and 179 000 wholesalers and retailers at risk — including the livelihood of emerging farmers

Holistic Financial Planning for Professionals Webinar

Our lives are constantly in flux, so it makes sense that your financial planning must be reviewed frequently — preferably on an annual basis

Undeterred by Covid-19 pandemic, China and Africa hold hands, building a community of a shared future for mankind

It is clear that building a community with a shared future for all mankind has become a more pressing task than ever before

Wills, Estate Administration and Succession Planning Webinar

Capital Legacy has had no slowdown in lockdown regarding turnaround with clients, in storing or retrieving wills and in answering their questions

Call for Expression of Interest: Training supply and needs assessment to support the energy transition in South Africa

GIZ invites eligible and professional companies with local presence in South Africa to participate in this tender to support the energy transition

Obituary: Mohammed Tikly

His legacy will live on in the vision he shared for a brighter more socially just future, in which racism and discrimination are things of the past

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday