Military Seize Power In Gabon, Overturn Presidential Election

Ali Bongo Odimba
Ali Bongo Ondimba (Credit: AFP)

Soldiers in Gabon took over the state-owned television and announced the they had seized power and were overturning the presidential election in the Central African nation.

Associated Press is reporting that more than a dozen soldiers were responsible for the action and were appealing for calm among the population.

A spokesman for the revolting soldiers had released a statement reaffirming their commitment to respecting the country’s obligations to the national and international community.

One of the key reasons for the power seizure was the manner the presidential elections were conducted. President Ali Bongo Ondimba, 64, had been declared the winner with 64.7% of the votes which were disputed by the opposition. Ondimba was declared elected for a consecutive third term and was to continue the lineage of his family holding power for the last 55 years. He first rose to power in 2009 after the death of his father, Omar Bongo.

Omar Bongo had ruled the country for 41 years.

Gabonese elections have always been disputed and violent.

The wave of coups sweeping away democratic regimes in Africa has been on an upward spiral after similar coups in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.

In Niger, the action had drawn the ire of the international community and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the regional economic bloc in West Africa. ECOWAS has imposed sanctions on Niger and threatened military action to reinstall the democratically elected regime. However, the coup seems to have popular public support with massive solidarity rallies carried out by the local population.

In most of the coups, including Gabon, the revolting soldiers have always complained of infractions including corruption and falsification of election results.

Gabon in particular has a long history of electoral violence since it started holding multiparty elections in 1990. In 2016, a number of deaths were recorded after clashes between protesters and government forces after disputed election results were announced.

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