A growing storygrowing story,
The televised announcement came shortly after the state election commission announced that incumbent Ali Bongo had won a third term as president.
A group of senior military officers have gone on national television in Gabon to say that the weekend elections were unreliable and that they seized power.
Appearing on Gabon24 early Wednesday morning, officials said they had canceled the elections, dissolved all state institutions and closed the country’s borders.
They said they represented all of Gabon’s security and defense forces.
The announcement came shortly after the state Electoral Commission said President Ali Bongo Ondimba had won a third term in Saturday’s disputed election.
“In the name of the people of Gabon … we have decided to preserve peace by ending the current regime,” officials said.
Gabonese polling station, Bongo won 64.27 percent of the votes, compared to 30.77 percent for his main rival, Albert Ondo Osa, after a process beset by delays.
Al Jazeera’s Catherine Choi, reporting from Kenya, said “there are a lot of uncertainties” surrounding the military operation.
“It’s also a lot of tension. They are [military leaders] They say the government has not respected the will of the Gabonese people for years and that has to change,” Choi said.
On Saturday, the opposition camp said the election was a “fraud orchestrated by Ali Bongo and his supporters” after the internet was cut off and a curfew was imposed. French media outlets France 24, RFI and TV5 Monde were also banned, accused of “lacking objectivity and balance in relation to the current general elections…”, the government said.
“We also know that the internet is still down. It was closed over the weekend and a curfew was imposed,” Choi said. “So, people are very scared.”
“It’s very difficult for people in Gabon to access the information they need to know what’s going on,” he added.
Bongo was the candidate of the Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG), the party founded by his father, Omar Bongo, who led Gabon from 1967 to 2009. After his death, his son, then Defense Minister, assumed the presidency. It has been in power since then.
“We do not know where President Bongo is. The military did not say where the president was. Things are moving very fast,” said Choi.
Tensions were high amid Saturday’s vote, with opposition parties pushing for change and an end to the Bongo family’s dominance in Gabon.
Following the military announcement, Reuters and AFP news agencies heard gunfire in Gabon’s capital, Libreville.
This is a growing story. More updates to follow.