(Ecofin Agency) - Early morning today January 7, 2019, Gabon witnessed a failed coup attempt. Around 4 AM, many soldiers took control of the national radio broadcasting station and announced the creation of a “national restoration council”.
According to the statement read live by the putschists, this operation called "opération dignité" (dignity restoring operation) was motivated by the head of state’s (Ali Bongo) recent address ; an address they think is a “sorry sight” orchestrated by the president’s staff.
The statement read by lieutenant Ondo Obiang Kelly indicates that "the head of state’s speech aimed at ending the debates around his health condition has rather strengthened the doubts concerning his capacity to assume the burden related to his position as the president of the republic".
Calling the soldiers to get hold "of weapons and ammunition by any means", the lieutenant who also presented himself as president of the Mouvement patriotique des jeunes des forces de défense et de sécurité du Gabon (MPJFDS) also urged the population to support them and “occupy” the streets, airports, as well as radio and television stations.
Even though the government has just announced the putschists’ arrest and the end of this coup, this event shows the political uncertainty in Gabon since October 2018 when the president, who is currently recovering in Morocco, had a cerebrovascular accident.
Gunshots had been heard around the national radio-television at Boulevard Triomphal, downtown, but, for the time being, there is no information on the number of possible victims of this operation.
According to the minister of communication Guy-Bertrand Mapangou, the government spokesperson, peace should be restored within hours.
Moutiou Adjibi Nourou