Gabonese military overthrows government, allege election irregularities
30 August, 2023 | Srishti Ruchandani
The recent announcement came shortly after the state election body said President Ali Bongo On dimba had won a third term in office in Saturday’s disputed elections.
A group of senior Gabonese military officers on Wednesday appeared on national television saying they had seized power in the country as the recent general elections in the country lacked credibility, Al Jazeera reported, adding that they claimed to represent all security and defence forces of Gabon.
The officers, appearing on Gabon24 on Wednesday morning, said they had cancelled the elections, dissolved all state institutions and closed the country’s borders, according to Al Jazeera. Gabon became the third African nation after Burkina Faso and Niger to see a change of guard through a military coup.
The recent announcement came shortly after the state election body said President Ali Bongo Ondimba had won a third term in office in Saturday’s disputed elections.
The officers said, “In the name of the Gabonese people … we have decided to defend the peace by putting an end to the current regime.”
The Gabonese Election Centre said Bongo had secured 64.27 per cent of the votes, significantly more than his main challenger Albert Ondo Ossa, who grabbed 30.77 per cent of the total votes polled, after a process beset by delays.
The country’s Opposition camp on Saturday said the election was a “fraud orchestrated by Ali Bongo and his supporters” after the internet was cut and a curfew imposed. French media outlets France 24, RFI and TV5 Monde were also banned, accused of “a lack of objectivity and balance … in connection with the current general elections”, the government said.
Bongo, earlier, announced his bid for a fresh term in office as the presidential candidate of the Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG), the party founded by his father, Omar Bongo, who ruled Gabon with an iron fist from 1967 to 2009. After his death, his son, then the defence minister, took his place as president and had been in power ever since, as per Al Jazeera.
Tensions had been running high amid Saturday’s vote with the Opposition pushing for change and an end to the Bongo family’s dominance of Gabon.