Gabon government regains control after attempted military coup

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Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

The government of Gabon has regained control in the capital, Libreville, after an attempted coup, officials said on Monday.

A government spokesman said that Lieutenant Kelly Ondo Obiang — the leader of the self-declared Patriotic Movement of the Defence and Security Forces of Gabon — has been captured.

Obiang was the last of five members of the group to be arrested on Monday. Two soldiers associated with the coup attempt were killed by government forces.

Government spokesman Guy-Bertrand Mapangou said the situation was “under control” late Monday, and that the government had retaken control of state broadcasting offices and a major thoroughfare in Libreville — the only two places affected by the attempted coup.

Military officers seized Gabonese National Radio, the state radio station, early Monday, announcing their intent to establish a “national restoration council.” Gabon’s President Ali Bongo is out of the country in nearby Morocco, recovering from a stroke.

The African Union condemned the attempted coup.

Bongo has been in Morocco since October. In a brief New Year’s speech recorded in Morocco, he acknowledged his health problems without giving details, and called the country “indivisible.”

Obiang said on the airwaves that President Ali Bongo’s recent radio address “reinforced doubts about the president’s ability to continue to carry out the responsibilities of his office.”

Bongo has been in office since 2009, narrowly winning re-election in 2016. His father ran the oil-rich country before him, and many have criticized the family for profiting off the country’s natural resources while failing to adequately invest in basic services for its roughly two million citizens.

US President Donald Trump deployed American military personnel to Gabon last week because of fears on political unrest in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

© VOA

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