Gabon soldiers launch coup

08 January, 2019, 07:24 | Author: Irvin Gilbert
  • Gabon President Ali Bongo. /FILE

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".

The five soldiers who briefly took control over the national broadcaster in the early hours on Monday read a brief statement announcing a "National Restoration Council" and appealed to young people to "take charge of their destiny", the BBC reports.

"Four have been arrested and one is on the run", said Gabon spokesman Guy-Bertrand Mapangou.

The 2016 presidential vote was marred by a violent police crackdown as opposition supporters protested election results that few considered plausible, leaving scores of people dead.

Soldiers stormed the national radio headquarters in Libreville, Gabon's capital, stating they were disappointed with Bongo's message for the New Year.

The troops "will remain in the region until the security situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo becomes such that their presence is no longer needed", Trump said.

Mr Bongo's father, Omar, was president for 42 years before he died in 2009 and was replaced by his son.

"If you are eating, stop; if you are having a drink, stop; if you are sleeping, wake up".

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A spokesman for the presidency told Reuters he would make a statement shortly.

Some youth in the nearby Cocotiers settlement torched a vehicle and set fire to tyres, while the security forces fired tear gas to disperse them.

"The eagerly awaited day has arrived when the army has made a decision to put itself on the side of the people in order to save Gabon from chaos", Lt. Kelly Ondo Obiang, the leader of the breakaway soldiers, reportedly declared on the radio.

An official close to the president's office told Radio France International that the strategic points in the country are under its control, including the radio and the army is seeking to resolve the situation without violence.

President Bongo took power in 2009 and is believed to be in Morocco, receiving treatment after suffering a stroke in October.

In their coup declaration, the soldiers called the president's message "a pitiful sight".

"The secretary-General has always stood against unconstitutional changes of power, especially by force, and in that light, he condemns the attempted coup that took place this morning in Gabon", said United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

In his new year speech, Bongo acknowledged he had health problems but said he was recovering.



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