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POLITICS: Gabon coup attempt foiled (1) infographic
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Gabon on edge after coup attempt

01/07/2019
Graphic News

January 7, 2019 -- The government of Gabon says the situation is under control following an attempted military coup. Junior officers claimed they seized power in the oil-rich nation, where the president’s family has ruled for 50 years.

Five army officers who took over state radio in the coup attempt have been arrested, government spokesman Guy-Betrand Mapangou, told Radio France International.

Authorities have regained control of the state broadcasting offices and a major thoroughfare in the capital, Libreville, which were the only areas taken over by the officers, according to the spokesman.

Earlier Monday, a soldier who identified himself as Lt. Obiang Ondo Kelly, commander of the Republican Guard, read out a statement saying the military had seized control of the government of this West African country. He was flanked by two other soldiers holding weapons and all were dressed in camouflage uniforms and green berets.

He had said they were taking over to "restore democracy".

Those soldiers have been taken into custody and President Ali Bongo's government remains in control, said the spokesman.

A curfew has been imposed over the capital, Libreville, and the internet has been cut. The city on the Atlantic Ocean coast is being patrolled by military tanks and armed vehicles.

The African Union affirmed its support for the Bongo government.

Bongo, in power since 2009, has been out of the country since October amid reports that he had a stroke. He recently addressed the country in a New Year's message that was filmed in Morocco, where he has been receiving medical treatment.

Oil-rich Gabon has been ruled for more than half a century by Bongo and his father, Omar, who died in 2009. Critics have accused the family of profiting from the country's natural resources while not investing enough in basic services for the population of more than 2 million.

The French-educated Bongo, who was the country's defense minister before becoming president, narrowly won re-election in 2016 while opposition rival Jean Ping claimed irregularities and continues to call himself the country's real president.


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