It was an election that was intended to end well in Gabon. Many woke up Saturday the 26th August to vote in the general election which the opposition described as lacking authenticity.
The presidential results were announced early Wednesday morning with President Ali Bongo winning the election again. But a few hours later, the situation took a twist with the military announcing a take over.
The address came moments after the national election authority said Bongo had won a third term in Saturday's election with 64.27 percent of the vote.
The mutiny soldiers announced the disssolution of the government including crucial institutions.
The group's members were drawn from the gendarme, the republican guard and other elements of the security forces.
According to the results issued prior to the officers' announcement, Bongo's main rival Albert Ondo Ossa won just 30.77 percent of the vote.
Internet was reportedly restored in Gabon after military officers said they'd taken power.
The private intelligence firm Ambrey said all operations at the country’s main port in Libreville had been halted, with authorities refusing to grant permission for vessels to leave. It wasn’t immediately clear if airlines were operating in the country.
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First coup in central Africa if successful
Gabon is one of the richest countries in Africa in terms of per capita GDP due largely to its oil revenue and relatively small population of 2.3 million.
Ali Bongo has been seen as a close ally to France. There has been a wave of coupd in the west African countries like Burkina Faso, Mali and the latest being Gabon. This is the first coup in the central African region in recent years.
In his annual Independence Day speech Aug. 17, Bongo said "While our continent has been shaken in recent weeks by violent crises, rest assured that I will never allow you and our country Gabon to be hostages to attempts at destabilization. Never."
Overthrowing Mr Bongo would end his family's 56-year hold on power in Gabon.
Unlike Niger and two other West African countries run by military juntas, Gabon hasn’t been wracked by jihadi violence and had been seen as relatively stable.
The economic ans social situation has left many disillusioned though. Nearly 40% of Gabonese ages 15-24 were out of work in 2020, according to the World Bank.
Gabon is a member of the OPEC oil cartel, with a production of some 181,000 barrels of crude a day, making it the eighth-largest producer of oil in sub-Saharan Africa.
At a time when anti-French dominance is spreading in many former colonies, the French-educated Bongo met President Emmanuel Macron in Paris in late June and shared photos of them shaking hands. France has some 400 troops in in the country.