Military officers announced on Wednesday overturning the government in Gabon, in an apparent coup targeting President Ali Bongo Ondimba who has been in power for 14 years and whose re-election was just announced.
The status of Ali Bongo, whose family has ruled the oil-rich African country for over 55 years, was not immediately clear but the area around his residence appeared to be quiet.
While the officers made their televised statement announcing the cancellation of the vote results one of the officers said “all the institutions of the republic” had been dissolved.
The address was read by an officer flanked by a group of a dozen army colonels, members of the elite Republican Guard, regular soldiers and others.
It came moments after the national election authority said Bongo, 64, had won a third term in Saturday’s election with 64.27 percent of the vote.
Bongo has been in power for 14 years, after being first elected in 2009 following the death of his father who had ruled the country for 41 years.
The announcement came in the middle of an overnight curfew and amid a nationwide internet shutdown, imposed by Bongo’s government as polling drew to a close on Saturday to prevent the spread of “false news” and possible violence.
Internet was restored on Wednesday morning after the TV address.
“Today, the country is going through a serious institutional, political, economic and social crisis,” the officer said on TV channel Gabon 24.
He said the recent election “did not meet the conditions for a transparent, credible and inclusive ballot so much hoped for by the people of Gabon.
“We have decided to defend peace by putting an end to the current regime,” the officer said, adding that he was speaking on behalf of the “Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions”.
“To this end, the general elections of 26 August 2023 and the truncated results are cancelled,” he added.