Army officers have appeared on national television in Gabon on Wednesday to announce they have taken over power in the Central African country, BBC reports.
They said they were annulling the results of Saturday’s election, in which President Ali Bongo was declared the winner.
The soldiers who introduced themselves as members of the CTRI (The Committee of Transition and Restoration of Institutions) said, “We have decided to defend peace by putting an end to the regime in power.”
The electoral commission said Bongo’s main challenger, Albert Ondo Ossa, had come in second place with 30.77%. Bongo’s team has rejected Ondo Ossa’s allegations of electoral irregularities.
His overthrow would end his family’s 53-year hold on power in Gabon.
Bongo has been in power for 14 years in the oil-rich West African country. He was first elected in 2009 following the death of his father, Omar Bongo Ondimba, who had ruled the country for 41 years.
Before polls closed on Saturday, Ondo Ossa had accused Bongo of “fraud” while claiming he was the rightful winner.
While announcing the cancellation of the vote results one of the officers said “all the institutions of the republic” had been dissolved.
The full statement reads:
“Our beautiful country, Gabon, has always been a haven of peace.
“Today, the country is going through a serious institutional, political, economic and social crisis.
“We are therefore forced to admit that the organisation of the general elections of 26 August 2023 did not meet the conditions for a transparent, credible and inclusive ballot so much hoped for by the people of Gabon.
“Added to this is irresponsible and unpredictable governance, resulting in a continuing deterioration in social cohesion, with the risk of leading the country into chaos.
“Today, 30 August 2023, we — the defence and security forces, gathered as the Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions (CTRI) on behalf of the people of Gabon and as guarantors of the institutions’ protection — have decided to defend peace by putting an end to the current regime.
“To this end, the general elections of 26 August 2023 and the truncated results are canceled.
“The borders are closed until further notice.
“All the institutions of the Republic are dissolved: the government, the Senate, the National Assembly, the Constitutional Court, the Economic, Social and Environmental Council and the Gabonese Elections Centre.
“We call for calm and serenity from the public, the communities of sister countries settled in Gabon, and the Gabonese diaspora.
“We reaffirm our commitment to respecting Gabon’s commitments to the national and international community.
“People of Gabon, we are finally on the road to happiness.
“May God and the spirits of our ancestors bless Gabon. Honour and loyalty to our homeland.