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Gabon Coup: Attempted military takeover has been quelled–Goverment

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Jude Johnson

Confusion has continued to train the reported military coup in the Central African country of Gabon as a sspokesperson for the government, Mr. Guy-Bertrand Mapangou, said the political situation in the country is “under control”, following an attempted military coup.

Its was reported earlier that group of junior military officers have seized control and have overthrown the government of the ailing President Ali Bongo.

But Mapangou said that four of the rebels had been arrested by the authorities. A fifth is on the run.

Junior officers claimed they seized power “to restore democracy” in oil-rich Gabon, where the ailing leader’s family has ruled for 50 years.

Tanks and armed vehicles could be seen in the capital Libreville.

Current leader Ali Bongo succeeded his father Omar Bongo as president in 2009. He narrowly won re-election in 2016 in a poll marred by violence and accusations of fraud.

Soldiers announcing a coup on state television
Image captionSoldiers announced they had seized power on state television

What happened this morning?

The five soldiers took control of the national radio station at 04:30 local time (03:30 GMT) to read a short statement announcing a “National Restoration Council”.

In a video circulating on social media, three young soldiers can be seen in a radio studio wearing military fatigues and holding guns.

Lt Kelly Ondo Obiang, who said he represented a group called the Patriotic Movement of the Defence and Security Forces of Gabon, specifically appealed to young people to “take charge of their destiny”.

The insurgents called on soldiers to take control of the transport system, ammunition reserves and airports “in the interests of the nation”.

The BBC’s Firmain Eric Mbadinga said the coup attempt came as a huge surprise. The army has always been seen as loyal to the Bongo family, he said, because it is dominated by the presidential guard, who mostly come from Mr Bongo’s home region.

Most of the capital remains calm, an eyewitness told the Reuters news agency.

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Five things to know about Gabon

  • Compared to most West and Central African countries, Gabon has seen much less political turmoil, and has had just three presidents since 1960
  • Former ruler Omar Bongo dominated Gabonese politics for almost four decades, crushing dissent
  • It is a major oil producer but one third of its people live in poverty
  • It has a population of 1.8 million people, with an average life expectancy of 62 years. The youth unemployment rate is around 35%
  • The country’s national symbol is the black panther
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Map showing location of Gabon

What more do we know about President Ali Bongo?

The president’s term in office has been overshadowed by a long-running French investigation into allegations of embezzlement involving the Bongo family’s assets.

Mr Bongo, who has been out of the country for two months, reportedly suffered a stroke in October and received treatment in Morocco.

He sought to put an end to the rumours about his health with a televised new year message in which he said he was feeling fine.

Soldiers said they had been disappointed by the message, calling it “a pitiful sight” and a “relentless attempt to cling onto power.”

President Trump has deployed soldiers to Gabon to protect US citizens amid fears of violent protests in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo following its presidential election.

Credit|BBC


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