Libreville, Aug 30 (EFE).- A group of army officers declared a military coup in Gabon on Wednesday, shortly after election authorities in the former French colony on the West coast of Africa announced President Ali Bongo’s victory for a third term.
Twelve soldiers in military fatigues appeared on national television, asserting that they had seized power in the country, which “is currently undergoing a severe institutional, political, economic, and social crisis.”
They invalidated the results of the elections held over the weekend, in which President Bongo had been declared the winner.
The military administration, they said, had dissolved “all the institutions of the republic.”
“We call for calm and serenity for the public, the communities of sister countries settled in Gabon, and the Gabonese diaspora,” an officer stated, reading from a prepared statement.
“We reaffirm our commitment to uphold Gabon’s obligations to the national and international community. People of Gabon, we are finally on the road to happiness.”
The officer alleged that the elections on Aug. 26 did not meet the conditions for a transparent, credible, and inclusive vote.
He said they were speaking on behalf of the Gabonese people and the “Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions” after convening a meeting with security and armed forces.
“We have decided to defend peace by putting an end to the current regime.”
They said they have closed the borders until further notice.
The coup declaration followed the announcement by the electoral authority that Bongo, who has held power since 2009, had secured a third term.
Bongo, whose family has governed the oil-rich African nation for over 50 years, garnered just over 64 percent of the votes in the general elections, which were marred by allegations of fraud.
Bongo defeated opposition candidate Albert Ondo Ossa, who secured nearly 34 percent of the vote.
Ossa decried the election results as “a premeditated fraud” orchestrated by President Bongo’s Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG).
The elections took place without international observers.
After the vote to elect a new president and legislative bodies, authorities cut off internet connectivity and imposed a curfew.
Bongo assumed power in 2009 after the death of his father, Omar Bongo, who had ruled the country since 1967.
The preceding elections in 2016 were similarly tainted by fraud, with Bongo winning over his closest rival by a margin of fewer than 6,000 votes.
If the coup is confirmed, Gabon would become the eighth former French colony in Africa where the military has seized power within the past three years.
The other coup attempts have taken place in the Sahel region, to the north.
Earlier, in July, the military seized power in Niger in west Africa.
Niger’s neighbors, Mali, Guinea-Conakry, and Burkina Faso, are already under military dictatorship. EFE