On Wednesday, August 30, 2023, senior Gabonese military officers declared their assumption of power in the resource-rich Central African nation. The announcement was made on state television shortly after the Gabonese electoral body had announced President Ali Bongo’s supposed victory for a third consecutive term, securing 64 percent of the vote.
Citing concerns over the nation’s deteriorating social cohesion due to what they described as “unpredictable and irresponsible governance,” which they believed could plunge the country into chaos, one of the military officers stated their intention to safeguard peace by ending the current regime. This announcement was broadcast on the Gabon 24 TV channel.
In addition to seizing power, the military officers nullified the election results and implemented the closure of all borders until further notice. They also dissolved state institutions. President Bongo’s bid for a third term would have extended his family’s longstanding control over the nation; he had succeeded his father, Omar Bongo, who held the presidency from 1967 until his passing in 2009.
Opposition factions contested the election outcome, alleging fraud, particularly given the announcement of President Bongo’s substantial 64 percent win. Leading up to the election, concerns had arisen about the potential for post-election violence due to entrenched grievances within the population of approximately 2.5 million. The World Bank reported that nearly 40 percent of Gabonese individuals aged 15 to 24 were unemployed in 2020, highlighting socioeconomic tensions.
In the midst of these developments, access to the internet which was curtailed in the build-up to the election, has been partially restored. France has said they are closely following the coup and China has called for the safety of President Bongo who is under house arrest.
The Gabon seizure of power is the most recent addition to a series of coups occurring in recent years. It emerged only a month following a military takeover in Niger. The year 2022 witnessed two coups in Burkina Faso, alongside unsuccessful coup endeavors in Guinea Bissau, The Gambia, and the island nation of Sao Tome and Principe.
Throughout 2021, Africa experienced a total of six coup attempts, out of which four were accomplished successfully.
Source: Sky News