The leaders of the coup in Gabon on Wednesday named Republican Guard chief General Brice Oligui Nguema transitional president, according to a TV statement, after the military seized control in the wake of elections.
“General Oligui Nguema Brice was unanimously appointed chairman of the Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions, chairman of the transition,” declared an officer in the presence of dozens of senior officers, according to the press release read out on Gabon 24.
The claimed takeover sparked condemnation from the African Union (AU) and alarm from Nigeria over “contagious autocracy” in a continent where the military have seized power in five other countries since 2020.
Bongo, 64, who took over from his father Omar in 2009, was placed under house arrest and one of his sons arrested for treason, the coup leaders said.
In a dramatic pre-dawn address, a group of officers declared “all the institutions of the republic” had been dissolved, the election results cancelled and the borders closed.
“Today, the country is going through a serious institutional, political, economic and social crisis,” according to the statement read on state TV.
It was read by an officer flanked by a group of a dozen army colonels, members of the elite Republican Guard, regular soldiers and others.
The elections “did not meet the conditions for a transparent, credible and inclusive ballot so much hoped for by the people of Gabon”, the statement said.
“Added to this is irresponsible and unpredictable governance, resulting in a continuing deterioration in social cohesion, with the risk of leading the country in chaos.”
“We — the Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions (CTRI) on behalf of the people of Gabon and as guarantors of the institutions’ protection — have decided to defend peace by putting an end to the current regime,” it said.