The soldiers who attempted coup d’état in Gabon are now at the stops: two of them were killed. Two of the alleged five soldiers who took part in the coup attempt in Gabon on Monday were killed, the Gabonese government said.
They were shot dead after security agents stormed the national radio building they had invested. The junior officers claimed to have seized power “to restore democracy” in Gabon, an oil-rich country, where the Bongo family has been the undisputed ruler for 50 years in this small country in Central Africa.
“The situation is under control,” according to presidential statement that said Lieutenant Kelly Ondo Obiang, leader of the soldiers was captured hidden under a bed after a brief period of flight.
How was the coup attempt?
The rebel soldiers took control of the national radio in the capital, Libreville, at 04:30 local time (03:30 GMT). Lt Obiang read a short statement announcing a “National Restoration Council”. “If you eat, stop, if you have a drink, stop, if you sleep, wake up, wake up your neighbours …. get up as one man and take control of the street,” the statement said.
Young people from the Cocotiers district burned a car and set tires on fire. Security forces fired tear gas to disperse them. Much of the city was deserted and businesses shut down. They invited their workers to stay at home. Internet access was also briefly disrupted.
The rebel soldiers entered the radio station after “neutralizing” the gendarmes in front of the building before spreading their message. The security services then stormed the building and shot dead two rebel soldiers and freed journalists who were held hostage.
The authorities had previously reported that five rebels had entered the building and four of them had been arrested. According to a subsequent statement, six rebel soldiers were involved, while other reports indicated that there were seven.
In a video broadcast on social media, one can see in a radio studio three young soldiers in military uniform and armed. Lt Obiang, who claimed to represent a group called the Patriotic Movement of Gabon’s Defence and Security Forces, specifically called on young people to “take their destiny in their own hands”.
The insurgents called on the military to take control of transport, ammunition reserves and airports “in the interest of the nation”.
Finally, their call was not heard!
“The situation is calm, the gendarmes who are often stationed there have taken control of the whole area around the headquarters of the radio and television, so everything is back to normal,” said Guy-Bertrand Mapangou. Mapangou also added that army generals, civil society and opposition leaders mentioned in the rebel statement as potential supporters would be investigated.
The reaction of the opposition
The main opposition party, the Coalition for the New Republic, denied any connection with the rebel soldiers. One of its main members, Paul-Marie Gondjout, told the BBC that soldiers and police were looking for vehicles on the main roads of the capital, Libreville. “We see the order, but we do not know what’s going on,” Gondjout said.
He added that with the absence of President Ali Bongo from the country since October, when he suffered a stroke, his constitutional dolphin should take an oath to lead Gabon. “The country must be run and we have no government or head of state,” said Gongjout.
President Ali Bongo succeeded his father Omar Bongo as President in 2009. He was re-elected in 2016 in a vote tainted by violence and accusations of fraud. The French government, the African Union and several other countries have condemned the attempted coup.