On Wednesday, a group of Gabonese military officers appeared on television and announced they were “putting an end to the current regime” and overturning official election results that had given President Ali Bongo Ondimba another term in office.
During the announcement, AFP journalists in Libreville, the capital of Gabon, heard gunfire.
While proclaiming the annulment of the election results, one of the officers stated that “all institutions of the republic” had been dissolved.
An officer delivered the address while flanked by a dozen army colonels, members of the elite Republican Guard, and other soldiers.
It occurred shortly after the national election authority announced that Bongo, 64, had won a third term with 64.27 percent of the vote in Saturday’s election.
In the oil-rich West African nation, Bongo has been in authority for 14 years. Following the death of his father, Omar Bongo Ondimba, who had governed the country for 41 years, he was first elected in 2009.
The announcement was made in the midst of an overnight curfew and a nationwide internet closure, both of which were imposed by Bongo’s government as Saturday’s voting came to a close.
A reporter for AFP observed that the streets of downtown Libreville were empty at 06:00 GMT.
The officer stated on Gabon 24 that the country is experiencing a severe institutional, political, economic, and social crisis.
He stated that the most recent election “did not meet the conditions for a transparent, credible, and inclusive vote that the people of Gabon so desperately desired.”
The officer explained that he was speaking on behalf of the “Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions” when he stated, “We have decided to defend the peace by ending the current regime.”
The statement was also aired on Gabon 1’s public television station.
“To this end, the general elections of 26 August 2023 and the truncated results are canceled,” he continued.
“All institutions of the republic are dissolved: the government, the Senate, the National Assembly, and the Constitutional Court,” he added, proclaiming the closure of the country’s borders “until further notice.”
Bongo and Ondo Ossa led a field of fourteen candidates contending for the presidency of the oil-rich central African state.
The presidential, legislative, and municipal elections in Gabon were held without the presence of election observers.
Albert Ondo Ossa, Bongo’s primary opponent, received only 30.77 percent of the vote, according to results released before the officers’ announcement.
Before Saturday’s polls concluded, Ondo Ossa had accused Bongo of “fraud” and asserted that he was the rightful winner.
As the vote concluded, Bongo’s government announced it would impose a nightly curfew between 7:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. beginning on Sunday and that the internet would be shut down for the foreseeable future in order to prevent the dissemination of “false news” and potential violence.
The country’s broadcasting authority, the HAC, has also temporarily banned France 24, Radio France Internationale (RFI), and TV5Monde from the airwaves, accusing them of “a lack of objectivity and balance” in their election coverage.
Mike Jocktane, the campaign manager for Ondo Ossa, demanded that Bongo give over power “without bloodshed” on Monday, claiming without evidence that a partial vote count placed Ondo Ossa in the lead.
Gabonese law prohibits the publication of partial results prior to the announcement of the final tally, which only the Gabonese Elections Centre, the organization responsible for conducting elections, is authorized to release.