In a shocking turn of events, soldiers in Gabon have seized power, suspending democratic rule and sparking fears of an escalating crisis of coups in Africa.
The unfolding drama has sent shockwaves through the country and beyond, as army officers took to the national television to announce their takeover.
The soldiers, in a televised address on Gabon’s national television, expressed their concerns about the irregularities in the country’s recent elections.
They declared the annulment of the results of Saturday’s polls, where President Ali Bongo had been declared the winner.
The soldiers voiced their discontent with the electoral process and cited “irresponsible, unpredictable governance resulting in a continuing deterioration in social cohesion that risks leading the country into chaos” as their motivation for intervening.
As the news broke, reports of heavy gunfire, particularly in the capital city, emerged, painting a chaotic and tense atmosphere in the nation.
The soldiers also revealed that the country’s borders had been closed “until further notice,” heightening the sense of isolation.
International attention quickly turned to Gabon, with foreign media being banned from entering the country to cover the unfolding events. Reporters Without Borders condemned the restriction, highlighting the lack of transparency surrounding the situation.
Prior to the takeover, concerns about the electoral process had already been raised. Main opposition candidate Albert Ondo Ossa pointed out numerous irregularities, such as polling stations lacking ballot papers bearing his name and the inclusion of withdrawn candidates’ names on the ballot sheets.
The government’s decision to impose a curfew and suspend internet access as the polls closed further raised eyebrows.
President Ali Bongo’s previous electoral wins had been marred by allegations of fraud, but this time, the situation escalated due to controversial changes made to voting papers just weeks before the election day.
Bongo’s ascension to power in 2009 following his father Omar’s death had already been a subject of debate, and his 2018 stroke had prompted calls for him to step aside.
As the international community watches closely, the world waits for responses from other nations and organizations, while the future of Gabon hangs in the balance.
The soldiers’ bold move to seize power has not only suspended democratic governance but also intensified concerns about the fragile stability of the African continent in the face of these escalating coup attempts.