Senior military commanders in Gabon have seized power, claiming that the recently completed general election lacks legitimacy.
The officers made an appearance on the country’s television and claimed to speak for the whole security and armed forces of Gabon.
The sudden upheaval has shocked the entire country, and after their televised appearance, shooting could be heard booming across Libreville, the country’s capital.
Military officials declared the election results null and void, closed all borders till further notice, and disbanded governmental institutions.
Their audacious claim comes just days after the current president, Ali Bongo, was crowned the winner of a contentious third presidential term. According to the Gabonese election center, Bongo received 64.27% of the vote.
Discontent was stoked further by the delays and opposition charges of fraud that marred this election.
The officers’ televised statement voiced their commitment to defending peace by dismantling what they called the “current regime.” The lack of immediate government response to their takeover has deepened the sense of uncertainty prevailing in the nation.
Albert Ondo Ossa, Ali Bongo’s major rival who received 30.77% of the vote, said there were electoral violations.
These allegations were vigorously denied by Bongo’s staff. Following the election, tensions were already high as Bongo sought to maintain the family’s long-standing hold on power while the opposition mobilized for radical change in the resource-rich but economically impoverished country.
The absence of international observers, suspension of foreign broadcasts, internet service closure, and installation of a nationwide midnight curfew in the aftermath of the election heightened international concerns about the transparency of the democratic process. These considerations had called into doubt the fairness of the electoral process.