Gabon Military Officers Declare Seizure of Power Amid Election Controversy

Gabonese soldiers appeared on TV Wednesday to announce they were "putting an end to the current regime" in the country. Gabon 24 / AFP - Getty Images

Military officers in Gabon have taken to national television to announce a seizure of power in an attempted coup. The announcement came in the wake of official election results that declared President Ali Bongo victorious for a third term, sparking deep-seated discontent within the country.

The electoral commission had initially declared Bongo the winner of the Saturday election with a commanding 64 percent of the vote. However, concerns over the fairness of the electoral process had been simmering, particularly after the government imposed a nighttime curfew and cut off internet access following the vote. These measures raised questions about transparency and led to suspicions of electoral manipulation.

On Wednesday, the situation took a startling turn when a group of 12 soldiers appeared on Gabon’s Gabon 24 TV channel, declaring the annulment of the election results and the dissolution of key national institutions. The soldiers cited their actions as a response to what they described as “irresponsible, unpredictable governance” that had caused a dangerous erosion of social cohesion, potentially pushing the nation towards chaos. This announcement sent shockwaves across the country and the international community.

It is worth noting that this is not the first time Gabon has experienced political turmoil of this nature. In 2019, a similar scenario unfolded when members of the military claimed to have ousted President Bongo, who was abroad receiving medical treatment at the time. However, the government swiftly moved to regain control and insisted that it had restored stability.

The situation in Gabon echoes a growing trend of political instability on the African continent, with military takeovers becoming alarmingly recurrent. Just months prior, Niger had experienced its own military seizure of power, further highlighting the fragility of democratic institutions in the region.

As the international community closely watches developments in Gabon, concerns over the country’s stability and the potential for violence loom large. The latest coup attempt threatens to disrupt the fragile balance of power and stability that Gabon has struggled to maintain, and it casts a shadow over the future of democratic governance in the country.

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