7 January 2019

Gabon Soldiers Seize State Radio in Potential Coup Attempt

Shots were heard in Gabon's capital Libreville on Monday morning, as was an unusual state radio broadcast: Soldiers came on air to say a recent speech had "reinforced doubts" in President Ali Bongo's ability to rule.

Soldiers came on Gabon's state radio early on Monday, saying that a "national restoration council" had been formed in the country, with President Ali Bongo (pictured above) convalescing in Morocco after a stroke.

Shots were heard in the area near the state television offices in the center of Libreville.

Bongo suffered a stroke in October and has been out of the country receiving treatment since.

The soldiers said that the president's recent televised New Year's eve address "reinforced doubts" about Bongo's "ability to carry out the responsibilities of his office," according to Lieutenant Kelly Ondo Obiang. Obiang leads the self-declared Patriotic Movement of the Defense and Security Forces of Gabon.

Bongo did not immediately respond to the broadcast, although a spokesman for the presidency told the Reuters news agency that he would comment shortly.

The 59-year-old president was hospitalized in October in Saudi Arabia. Since November, he has been continuing his treatment after the stroke in Morocco.

Bongo acknowledged health problems in his New Year speech but said that he was recovering.

The Bongo family has ruled Gabon for almost half a century. Ali Bongo succeeded his father, Omar, who died in 2009.

msh/jcg (AFP, Reuters)

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