Gabon: In the absence of President Ali Bongo, who suffered a stroke and was recuperating abroad, soldiers attempted – unsuccessfully – to lift the population.
The coup attempt in Gabon’s history finally failed. After the intrusion of a six-man commando into radio studios to announce the overthrow of the government, their leader was arrested and two other members were killed, announced the presidency in the afternoon.
The irruption of the commando took place this Monday morning at dawn. Soldiers entered the studios of State Radio Television Gabon (RTG) at 4 am and, for several hours, in a message circulated in a loop, they called the people to “stand up” against the ” fierce conservatives of power “.
They also announced the next establishment of a “National Council of Restoration” in the absence of President Ali Bongo Ondimba, recovering in Morocco. Their leader was arrested, according to the presidency. Two other members of the commando of six people were shot dead.
Shots were fired by AFP around the state radio, on the Boulevard Triomphal, in the center of Libreville. At 7 am, armored security forces of Gabon blocked access to this boulevard, said a correspondent.
The six members of the commando, having “neutralized” the gendarmes before the RTG, “intercepted and sequestered five journalists and technicians” before reading a statement, according to the presidency.
In this message, Lieutenant Kelly Ondo Obiang, Deputy Commander of the Republican Guard, presented himself as representative of the “Patriotic Movement of Youth of the Defense and Security Forces of Gabon”.
“Save Gabon from chaos”
Surrounded by two soldiers wearing green berets from the GR, he asked “all young people from the defense and security forces and all Gabonese youth to join us”.
The lieutenant pointed out that “the long-awaited day has arrived when the army has decided to stand alongside its people in order to save Gabon from chaos”, after doubts about the capacity to preside over Ali Bongo Odimba, absent for four months after having a stroke in Saudi Arabia, and the state of which inspires many rumors.
“If you’re eating, stop. If you are having a drink, stop. If you sleep, wake up. Wake up your neighbors … get up as one man and take control of the street, “he said on the radio, calling for public buildings and airports across the country. In vain.
The head of the group, who launched the call on the radio, “was arrested”, according to the presidency, saying that “the situation is under control”. Security forces “took the building (radio) assault, shot dead two members of the commando and released the hostages,” according to a statement from the presidency.
In a popular neighborhood near the radio, dozens of young people burned a car and ignited tires, seeming to respond to the call for the uprising of the mutineers, AFP said.
Paris calls for “strict compliance” with the Constitution
The police fired tear gas to disperse the protesters but the situation was calm in the rest of the city. According to government spokesman Guy-Bertrand Mapangou, the country’s borders remain open. On the other hand, the Internet was cut in Libreville, found an AFP journalist.
The African Union has “strongly” condemned “the coup attempt”, reaffirming “the AU’s total rejection of any unconstitutional change of power”.
Paris also condemned this coup attempt, calling for “strict compliance” with the Constitution in this former French colony and oil-producing country.
Libreville has been idling all morning, with locals avoiding going out and waiting for more information.
The vacancy of power has not been declared in Gabon in the absence of Ali Bongo Ondimba. The Constitutional Court transferred part of the powers of the President to the Prime Minister and the Vice President. The government is only doing routine business.
“Now that the fed up is making itself felt even at the level of the Republican Guard, it would be necessary that at the national and international level, one looks at the case of Gabon before it is too late. We are approaching the irreparable, “reacted Marc Ona, a figure of opposition Gabon quoted by RFI.