Gabon Govt Says Things Are in Control Hours After Soldiers 'Seize' Power

The Ali Bongo-led government in Gabon has announced that an attempt to topple the administration had failed and four of the plotters have been arrested and are in custody.

The announcement came hours after a group of soldiers announced they had seized power in the country in a "bid to restore democracy."

The New York Times reports that a fifth of the soldiers are on the run.

The coup comes on the heels of a New Year's address by Mr Bongo, whose family has been in power in the country for 50 years, assuring the citizen of the country that he was of good health. Mr Bongo has been ill and is receiving treatment for stroke in a hospital in Morocco. He has not been seen in public for two months.

The New Year address "reinforced doubts about the president's ability to continue to carry out of the responsibilities of his office," said Kelly Ondo Obiang, a lieutenant and the leader of the self-declared Patriotic Movement of the Defence and Security Forces of Gabon.

But government officials have announced that the government was in charge and everything is under control.

"The government is in place," a government spokesperson, Guy-Bertrand Mapangou, told France 24.

"The institutions are in place."

Slurred words

During his speech on New Year's speech, Mr Bongo said, "It is true that I have been through a difficult period, as sometimes happens in life. Today, as you can see, I am better and I am preparing to meet you again soon."

But a section of the populace was unimpressed by the video as the president was said to have slurred some of his words and his right arm remained immobile throughout the speech.

Mr Bongo's father, Omar, was president for 42 years before he died in 2009 and was replaced by his son.

Elections in the country have been discredited by reports of irregularities and fraud. The country also has a reputation for widespread corruption.

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