(Update 1: adds president’s statement, details)
Libreville, Aug 30 (EFE).- Gabon’s President Ali Bongo on Wednesday sought help from the international community from his residence, where he has been put under house arrest, hours after the nation’s military announced that it had seized power in a coup.
In a video shared on X – formerly Twitter – Bongo said he wanted to send a message to “all the friends that we have in the international community” to “make some noise” and that he and his family had been put under arrest.
The president said that at the moment he was at his residence and fine, but had no idea what was going on, and repeated that those who support him needed to make “a lot of noise.”
The president said that his son and wife were located in other places, without offering further details.
Earlier, the military junta said in a televised message that the leader, his family and their doctor have been put under house-arrest, while also announcing the arrest of one of Bongo’s sons, Noureddin Bongo Valentin, as well as his cabinet chief, Ian Ghislain Ngoulou, along with others close to the leader.
The military has accused the detainees of “high treason towards the state institutions, massive misappropriation of public funds, international financial embezzlement through an organized crime group, falsifying the sign of the president of the republic and using it, and drug trafficking.”
The coup came shortly after election authorities in the former French colony on the West coast of Africa had announced Bongo’s victory for a third term.
On Wednesday morning, 12 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, and said that the military administration 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 and were held without international observers.
He 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 Bongo’s Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG).