Military officers in Gabon say they have seized power

Militant soldiers in Gabon announced that they have overthrown the results of a presidential election and seized power.

Election Overturn: Soldiers reacted to President Ali Bongo Ondimba’s election win by declaring they had taken power.
* The election results, which marked Ondimba’s third term, were followed by gunfire in the capital, Libreville.
* Uniformed soldiers announced on state television that they intended to “dissolve all institutions of the republic.”

Coup Context: This coup comes after a series of similar overtakings in countries tied to France, Gabon’s former colonizer.
* Gabon, prior to this, was seen as comparatively stable, unlike other countries in West Africa experiencing military takeovers.
* This event comes only a month after mutinous soldiers in Niger seized power.

Bongo’s Rule: Ondimba was vying for a third term after assuming power post his father’s demise in 2009.
* Ondimba’s opponent in the election was Albert Ondo Ossa, a former education minister and economics professor.
* Another coup attempt occurred in January 2019 while Ondimba was recuperating from a stroke in Morocco, but was promptly suppressed.

Impact on Society: There were fears of violence erupting due to widespread dissatisfaction among Gabon’s populace.
* Nearly 40% of Gabonese ages 15-24 were unemployed in 2020.
* Every vote since Gabon’s transition to a multi-party system in 1990 has culminated in violence, including the 2016 election, which resulted in four deaths based on official figures.
* Many residents of Gabon left the country or relocated within it, and some increased their home security or hoarded food.

View original article on NPR

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