Hours after a military coup was successfully carried out by the Gabonese military, a video showing ousted President Ali Bongo calling on friends to ‘make noise’ against the junta has surfaced,
WuzupNigeria reported that Bongo was ousted by the military junta in the early hours of Wednesday, August 30, 2023, after the rebellious soldiers announced the cancellation of the recent election results and the dissolution of “all the institutions of the republic” on Gabonese national television.
The mutinous act followed Ali Bongo Ondimba was re-elected for a third term in an election the opposition described as a ‘fraud orchestrated’ by the ruling party, according to Al-Jazeera.
Barring the coup, the third term re-election of Ali who is the son of Omar Bongo, Gabon’s former president who held the country’s most exalted office from 1967 until his death in 2009, was billed to extend the Bongo family’s more than half a century in power.
Al-Jazeera quoting local media reported that the coup which was carried out to overturn the results of the recent election and remove a leader whose family has held power for almost 56 years was championed by Bongo’s cousin, Brice Clothaire Oligui Nguema. He is the commander-in-chief of the Gabonese Republican Guard – the country’s most powerful security unit.
However, in a 50-second video that has since gone viral, the ousted president of the oil-rich nation revealed that he had been arrested by the military group and called on his ‘friends’ to ‘make noise against the junta who have placed him under house arrest and isolated from his son and wife, who he said were held in a separate facility.
Bongo said, “My name is Ali Bongo Ondimba, President of Gabon. I am sending a message to all friends that we have all over the world, to tell them to make noise, to make noise.”
— Stanis Bujakera Tshiamala (@StanysBujakera) August 30, 2023
“Everyone will put forward ideas and the best ones will be chosen, as well as the name of the person who will lead the transition,” he said.
Reuters reported that the Gabonese coup will be the eighth in West and Central Africa since 2020. The latest one, in Niger, was in July. Military officers have also seized power in Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso and Chad, erasing democratic gains since the 1990s.
Meanwhile, the coup has since been condemned by the country’s coloniser France who in a statement said, “France condemns the ongoing military coup in Gabon and reiterates its desire to see the results of the election respected, once they are known.”
Reacting to the military coup, China called on the people of Gabon to settle their differences amicably while also seeking the personal safety of Bongo.
The statement read, “We call on all sides in Gabon to proceed from the basic interests of the country and the people, resolve differences through dialogue [and] restore normal order as soon as possible, guarantee the personal safety of President Bongo and uphold national peace and stability”.
Like China, Russia who also seeks influence in Africa reacted through its Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova saying; “Moscow has received with concern reports of a sharp deterioration in the internal situation in the friendly African country. We continue to closely monitor the development of the situation and hope for its speedy stabilization.”
Meanwhile, President Bola Tinubu of Nigeria, the current chair of the Economic Community of West African States who already has its hands full with the coup in Niger, is said to be working closely with other African heads of state on how to respond to the development in Gabon.
Tinubu’s spokesperson Ajuri Ngelale was quoted by Al-Jazeera, as of the time the news broke, as saying that the Nigerian president is watching developments in Gabon and the “autocratic contagion” spreading across the continent “with deep concern”.
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