Gabon Plunges into Chaos as Soldiers Seize Power, Nullify Election Outcome

A group of military personnel declared on national TV that they have taken control of Gabon after President Ali Bongo secured a third term in the office in the Central African country.

The BBC reported that the soldiers stated they were invalidating the outcome of Saturday’s election which the opposition had condemned as “rigged”.

They proclaimed that they were abolishing “all the institutions of the republic” with a group of 12 soldiers.

“We have decided to defend peace by putting an end to the current regime,” one of the soldiers was quoted as saying on TV channel Gabon 24.

The soldier cited “irresponsible, unpredictable governance resulting in a continuing deterioration in social cohesion that risks leading the country into chaos”.

The group of soldiers called themselves the Committee of Transition and Restoration of Institutions (CTRI) announced on Thursday that they had seized power in Gabon and dissolved the government of President Ali Bongo. They also said they had shut down the country’s borders to prevent any external interference.

The move came a day after the Gabonese Election Centre (CGE) declared Bongo the winner of the presidential election with 64.27% of the vote, followed by his main rival Albert Ossa with 30.77%. Ossa had accused Bongo of rigging the election and demanded a recount.

The CTRI leader, who identified himself as Lieutenant Colonel Ndong, said in a televised statement that they had acted to save Gabon from “irresponsible, unpredictable governance that has led to a continuous deterioration of social cohesion and risks plunging the country into chaos”.

He said they would form a transitional council and organise a national dialogue to restore democracy and stability in Gabon.

Bongo has been in power since 2009, when he succeeded his father Omar Bongo, who ruled the country for 42 years. Bongo, 64, suffered a stroke in 2018 that left him incapacitated for almost a year and sparked calls for him to resign.

In 2019, a coup attempt against Bongo was foiled by loyalist forces. The soldiers involved in the plot were later sentenced to prison.

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