Gabon: Govt Announces Arrest of Soldiers Attempting Coup

7 January 2019

Most of the soldiers who seized the headquarters of national radio in Libreville have been arrested, according to a government spokesperson. He said another one is on the run, reportedly calling them a "group of jokers".

Here is an excerpt of the coup attempt timeline as translated from French via RFI:

9:00 am: The government spokesman announces that four of the mutineers have been arrested and one is on the run. He says it's a group of jokers and the military hierarchy does not recognize them.

08:55: "I'm at the airport. There are not many people outside. All shops on main roads are closed. The majority of people stayed at home. Even at the airport, passengers do not go," says Alain, a resident of Libreville.

08:45: According to the Minister of Communication Guy-Bertrand Mapangou, spokesman of the government, the mutineers were arrested by the units of GIGN Gabonese. The situation is under control and the order will be fully restored in two or three hours, he says.

08:40: According to the ambassador of Gabon in Paris, joined by RFI, the mutineers arrested.

8:35 am: A relative of the presidency indicates that when the first members of the army entered the seized radio station, they found that mutineers were locked in a room. They were asked to open negotiations to avoid the use of force. This request was categorically denied.

08:30: On the images of the message broadcast by the putschists, we can see three soldiers. The speaker is sitting and behind him, two men in uniform, standing, martial-looking, carrying machine-guns. The officer who made the announcement identified himself as Lieutenant Kelly Ondo Obiang, Deputy Commander of the Republican Guard.

8:20 am: The communiqué of the  putschists is broadcast in a loop via the signal of the national radio station.

08:10: Still according to a source close to the presidency, the elements that have taken control of the radio are elements of the Guard of Honor, who do not have control of the Republican Guard's weapons. This same source specifies that these elements around are now after the radio station building.

08:00: Internet and social networks are cut and several neighborhoods in Libreville no longer have electricity.

07:47: In Gabon, a source close to the presidency says that all the strategic points are under control as well as area around the radio station. According to this source, the military does not want to use force against those who took control of the radio on Monday morning.

06h30: The national radio signal was at first cut before being finally restored.

06:00 am: Gunshots were heard around the Gabonese Radio Television in the city center. Armored vehicles block access to this boulevard.

05h30: Soldiers spoke on the national radio. They present themselves as the "Patriotic Youth Movement of the Defense and Security Forces". Starting point for their intervention: they say that the message to the nation of Ali Bongo issued on the occasion of the new year "has increased the doubt about his ability to serve as President of the Republic".

The military putschists announce that in a few hours they will set up a national council of the restoration after consultation, assuring the continuity of the State and to guarantee the Gabonese people a democratic transition. They invite several personalities to come to the National Assembly.

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