Gabon becomes 7th African country to go under military rule

Estimated read time 3 min read

News broke on early Wednesday that the Gabonese army has announced the takeover of the country, dissolving key state institutions. The news came barely 24 hours after President Ali Bongo was announced the winner of the August 26 elections. The electoral body announced that Ali Bongo won the polls to continue as leader of Gabon.

Details are still scanty due to the shutdown of the internet in the country by the ousted leadership claiming it was to protect the decency of the election and maintain peace. The military men, 12 of whom appeared on Gabon 24 said “We have decided to defend peace by putting an end to the current regime”.

Ali Bongo had ruled the country for 14 years after initially assuming leadership in 2009 following the death of his father Omar Bongo who ruled the country since 1967. Mr Bongo won the elections held over the weekend according to the Gabonese Election Centre (CGE). The CGE announced that the incumbent won 64.27% while the main opposition candidate, Albert Ondo Ossa, got 30.77%.

However, opposition supporters and Ondo Ossa rejected the results labelling it as a “fraud orchestrated by Ali Bongo and his supporters”. Mr. Ossa added, “We call on our compatriots who gravitate around those in power, more devoid of legitimacy than ever, particularly those around Mr Ali Bongo Ondimba to bow humbly to the will of the Gabonese people”.

“What is now expected of Mr Ali Bongo Ondimba is that he accepts the sovereign choice of the Gabonese people, that he respects it and that he organises, without bloodshed, the transfer of power to Professor Albert Ondo Ossa,” Mike Jocktane, the campaign manager of Ondo Ossa announced.

What the military in Gabon said

In a rather twist of fate that abruptly ended the over half-century hold of the Bongo family on power in Gabon, the military decided to step in. Calling themselves the Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions (CTRI), the military said Gabon is “on the road to happiness”.

The military said, “Today our country is going through a grave political crisis,” adding that they observed, “irresponsible, unforeseeable governance that has resulted in the steady degradation of social cohesion which risks leading the country to chaos”. They said they “have decided to defend peace by putting an end to the regime in power”.

“People of Gabon, we are finally on the road to bliss, may God and the souls of our ancestors bless our country,” the statement said.

What next?

Uncertainty still hangs in the air as information is hard to come by due to the internet shutdown. However, the military leaders said they would keep borders closed for now but urged everyone to remain calm.

“We call on the people, the communities of brotherly nations that reside in Gabon as well as the Gabonese diaspora to remain calm and serene,” African News reported.

“We reaffirm our commitment to respecting Gabon’s commitments to the national and international community.”

As it stands now, the oil-rich country has become the seventh African country to go under military rule and the second in the last month. It is the second Central African country to experience a military takeover in recent times following the 2021 takeover in Chad.

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