11:59am: Gabon’s armed forces have announced the “arrest” of military elements who announced a coup on Monday morning.
In a statement, the army said the coup plotters would face the wrath of the law and that it was “in full control” of the situation.
Heavily-armed soldiers and armored military vehicles continue to patrol Libreville.
9: 00am: VIDEO: Gabon Military Overthrows President Ali Bongo
The armed forces in Gabon have announced the toppling of ailing ruler, Ali Bongo.
Bongo, whose family has ruled the oil-rich equatorial African nation for five decades, replaced his father who passed away in 2009.
Ali Bongo suffered a stroke late last year before being rushed to Morocco for treatment.
In a New Year message to his countrymen from Morocco, Bongo said, “I am better and I am preparing to meet you again soon.”
This fueled speculation about the 59-year-old’s health with many saying he was incapacitated to run the country.
Today Monday morning, the military said in a statement on a public radio that it had seized power to “restore democracy”.
Earlier, gunshots could be heard near State House where the Presidential Guard is based.
— CGR.NewYork (@CGR_newyork) January 7, 2019
The coup was announced by Lieutenant Kelly Ondo Obiang, who claims to head the “Patriotic Movement of the Defence and Security Forces of Gabon.”
Lt Obiang said Bongo’s New Year message was evidence of the president’s “clear inability” to execute his main responsibilities as head of state.
The development came hardly a week after U.S. President Donald Trump deployed Special Forces in Gabon.
Trump said the personnel were deployed to Libreville, Gabon, to be in position to support the security of United States citizens, personnel, and diplomatic facilities in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo.
“This deployment of approximately 80 personnel is in response to the possibility that violent demonstrations may occur in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in reaction to the December 30, 2018, elections there,” said Trump.