A group of senior Gabonese military officers appeared on television in the early hours of Wednesday to announce the suspension of elections and the closing of borders shortly after the election commission said President Ali Bongo had won a third term.
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- Appearing on the Gabon 24 television channel, the officers said they represented all the security and defence forces of the central African nation.
- The soldiers said the election results were annulled, all borders closed until further notice and state institutions dissolved.
- Gabon voted Saturday in presidential, parliamentary and legislative elections in which incumbent Ali Bongo and Ondo Ossa led a race of 14 candidates vying for the top job.
6:48am Gunfire heard in the capital Libreville
Loud sounds of gunfire could be heard in the capital Libreville, Reuters and AFP reporters said following the military officers’ television announcement.
Tensions had been running high and there were fears of unrest after Saturday’s vote, which saw Bongo seeking to extend his family’s 56-year grip on power while the opposition pushed for change in the oil- and cocoa-rich but poverty-stricken nation.
A lack of international observers, the suspension of some foreign broadcasts – including FRANCE 24 and sister radio station Radio France Internationale – and the authorities’ decision to cut internet service and impose a nationwide night-time curfew after the poll had raised concerns about the transparency of the electoral process.
There was no immediate comment from the government of the OPEC+ member nation.
6:43am Soldiers announce dissolution of state institutions in TV address
Appearing on the Gabon 24 television channel, the officers said they represented all the security and defence forces of the central African nation. They said the election results were annulled, all borders closed until further notice and state institutions dissolved.
“In the name of the Gabonese people … we have decided to defend the peace by putting an end to the current regime,” the officers said.
One of the soldiers added that “all the institutions of the republic” had been dissolved.
“We have decided to defend peace by putting an end to the current regime,” one of the soldiers 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 said.
“All the institutions of the republic are dissolved: the government, the Senate, the National Assembly and the Constitutional Court,” he added, announcing the closure of the country’s borders “until further notice”.
(FRANCE 24 with Reuters, AFP and AP)