Gabon foiled an attempted military coup on Monday, arresting several plotters just hours after they took over state radio in a bid to end 50 years of rule by President Ali Bongo’s family.
In a radio message at 4:30 a.m. local time, Lieutenant Kelly Ondo Obiang, who described himself as an officer in the Republican Guard, said Bongo’s New Year’s Eve address from Morocco, where he is recovering from a stroke, “reinforced doubts about the president’s ability to continue to carry out of the responsibilities of his office”.
Hours later, Government spokesman Guy-Bertrand Mapangou said that four of the five officers who had taken over the state radio in the capital Libreville were arrested. A fifth officer fled and is being pursued. Mapantagou said that calm has returned and that the situation is under control.
Outside the radio station, loyalist soldiers fired teargas to disperse about 300 people who had come out into the streets to support the coup attempt, a witness said.
The Bongo family has ruled the oil-producing country since 1967. The dramatic developments came as Bongo is living at a private residence in the Moroccan capital Rabat after suffering a stroke. He made a televised speech on New Year’s Eve but has not been in the country since October.