Military topples Gabonese president, Ali Bongo’s third term re-election

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Gabonese Army officers have announced on national television that they have taken over power in Gabon, after President Ali Bongo was re-elected to a third term in office in the Central African nation.

According to the BBC, the officers said they were annulling the results of Saturday’s election which the opposition had denounced as “fraudulent”.

The soldiers announced that they were dissolving “all the institutions of the republic”.

“We have decided to defend peace by putting an end to the current regime,” one of the soldiers was quoted as saying on TV channel Gabon 24.

The junta cited “irresponsible, unpredictable governance resulting in a continuing deterioration in social cohesion that risks leading the country into chaos”.

Introducing themselves as members of the Committee of Transition and Restoration of Institutions (CTRI), the soldiers also announced closure of the country’s borders.

The Gabonese Election Centre (CGE) had declared Bongo winner of the election on Wednesday with 64.27% of the votes cast.

Michel Bonda, CGE head, said Bongo’s main challenger, Albert Ossa, had polled second with 30.77%.

Bongo’s team had rejected Ossa’s allegations of electoral fraud and irregularities.

Tensions have been running high in Gabon with fears of unrest, following the presidential and parliamentary elections.

A night-time nationwide curfew had been imposed and internet was cut off after the poll.

Bongo’s overthrow would end his family’s 53-year hold on power. He became president when his father Omar died in 2009.

Bongo, 64, suffered a stroke in 2018 which sidelined him for almost a year and led to calls for him to step aside.

In 2019, there was a coup attempt on Bongo. Soldiers who led the failed putsch were sent to prison.

Responding to the development, former Nigerian Minister of Aviation Femi Fani-Kayode has said he is not surprised by the military coup in Gabon, and that people should expect more coups in Francophone countries of West and Central Africa.

Fani-Kayode made the comments in a post on his social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

He said the coup in Gabon was “prophetic” and that it was “frankly” to be expected.

Fani-Kayode cited his recent essay “Does Killing Nigerien Babies Bring Glory To Our Name?” in which he warned that “coups are becoming more and more common in Francophone Africa.” He said that the reasons for this are “corruption, poverty, and a lack of democracy.”

Fani-Kayode also questioned whether the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) or the African Union would threaten to invade Gabon, as they have done in the past with other countries that have experienced coups.

He wrote, “Sadly another coup has taken place in Africa. This time it is in the nation of Gabon where President Ali Bongo (pictured below) has been removed from power.

“It appears that the warning I gave in my last essay, titled ‘Does Killing Nigerien Babies Bring Glory To Our Name?’, was prophetic.

“I am not surprised that this has happened and frankly we should expect more coups in the Francophone countries of West and Central Africa for the reasons I stated in that essay.

“I wonder whether ECOWAS or the African Union will threaten to invade Gabon too?”

The coup in Gabon that took place on Wednesday, August 30, 2023 is the latest in a series of military takeovers in Francophone Africa.

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