Gabon military claims takeover, cancels election result

IANS Photo

IANS Photo

Libreville, August 30 (IANS): Just hours after Gabon's electoral commission announced that President Ali Bongo Ondimba had secured a third term in office after winning the August 26 election, the Central African nation's mlitary on Wednesday claimed to have taken over after dissolving state institutions and cancelling the poll result.

In a video message, a group of senior Gabonese officers announced that they had seized power and also closed the country's borders until further notice, reports Xinhua news agency.

"In the name of the Gabonese people ... we have decided to defend the peace by putting an end to the current regime," the senior military officers said on national television after the results were announced.

The officers said that the general election was not credible and the results stood annulled.

They read a statement on behalf of the Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions.

"All the institutions of the Republic are dissolved, in particular the government, the Senate, the National Assembly, the Constitutional Court, the Economic, Social and Environmental Council, the Gabonese Center for Elections," they added.

The Gabonese presidency and the government are yet to issue official statements on the development.

Local media reported that gunfire was heard in the capital Libreville.

Meanwhile, internet has been restored in Gabon after the government had cut off accessand imposed a curfew after the end of voting, the BBC reported.

The government had said the move was necessary to prevent the spread of misinformation and outbreak of violence.

Ondimba's overthrow would end his family's 53-year hold on power in Gabon.

As in the previous general elections in Gabon, there were serious concerns about the process in the August 26 vote.

Main opposition candidate Albert Ondo Ossa complained that many polling stations lacked ballot papers bearing his name, while the coalition he represents said the names of some of those who had withdrawn from the presidential race had still been on the ballot sheet, reports the BBC.

According to Reporters Without Borders, foreign media was banned from entering the country to cover the election.

As polls closed, the government announced a curfew and suspension of internet access for security reasons.

Ondimba came to power when his father Omar died in 2009.

In 2018, he suffered a stroke which sidelined him for almost a year and led to calls for him to step aside.

The following year, a failed coup attempt saw mutinying soldiers sent to prison.