Published: Mon, January 07, 2019
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Gabon military coup | Soldiers seize state radio, military in the capital

Gabon military coup | Soldiers seize state radio, military in the capital

A crowd of around 300 people have gathered outside the radio station in the capital Libreville, apparently showing their support for the military takeover.

The soldiers said that the president's recent televised New Year's Eve address "reinforced doubts" about Bongo's "ability to carry out the responsibilities of his office", according to Lieutenant Kelly Ondo Obiang.

However, the military has described it as "a pitiful sight" and a "relentless attempt to cling onto power". "I reaffirm the AU's rejection of all anti-constitutional change".

But within a few hours, government spokesman Guy-Bertrand Mapangou told AFP: "Calm has returned, the situation is under control".

The soldiers who have taken over streets, Zimbabwe Style, also condemned the New Year speech delivered by President Ali Bongo Ondimba stating that they were disappointed with it.

Early Monday morning, the military in Gabon, took over the country in a bid to 'restore democracy'.

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President Bongo, who took over power in 2009, reportedly suffered a stroke in October and was receiving treatment in Morocco. Following mass riots in the 1980s, Omar Bongo turned the country into a multi-party state in 1990 but his rule was marred with extravagance at the expense of the people. His family has ruled the oil-producing country for almost half a century.

In his New Year's speech, Bongo acknowledged his health problems but said he was recovering.

The president posted a video message recorded in Rabat and distributed via social and traditional media last Monday in which he admitted he had been "through a hard period".

The French-educated Bongo, who was the country's defense minister before becoming president, narrowly won re-election in 2016 while opposition rival Jean Ping claimed irregularities and continues to call himself the country's real president.

Last week, President Donald Trump has deployed soldiers to Gabon to protect U.S. citizens amid fears of violent protests in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo following its presidential election. Last week, the United States deployed 80 troops to Gabon to evacuate American citizens from nearby Congo in the event that a disputed election there turns violent.

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