Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba is being detained at home and one of his sons has been arrested for “treason,” military officers said on Wednesday, hours after announcing they had overthrown the government.
“President Ali Bongo is under house arrest, surrounded by his family and doctors,” they said in a statement read out on state TV.
Bongo’s son and close adviser, Noureddin Bongo Valentin, his chief of staff, Ian Ghislain Ngoulou, as well as his deputy, two other presidential advisers and the two top officials in the ruling Gabonese Democratic Party “have been arrested,” a military leader said.
They are accused of treason, embezzlement, corruption and falsifying the president’s signature, among other allegations, he said.
Earlier on Wednesday, military officers said they had toppled Bongo, who has been in power for 14 years, hours after he had been declared the victor in Saturday’s elections.
In a televised statement, they said the vote results had been cancelled and “all the institutions of the republic” dissolved.
Gabonese army officers under the aegis of the Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions had earlier on Wednesday morning announced on national television why they are taking over power from President Ali Bongo in the country.
The soldiers highlighted serious institutional, political, economic and social crises as factors responsible for the coup that they tagged, ‘necessary’ for the progress of the West African country.
In a nationwide address rendered in French but translated to English by AFP, the junta said, “Our beautiful country, Gabon, has always been a haven of peace.
“Today, the country is going through a serious institutional, political, economic and social crisis.
“To this end, the general elections of 26 August 2023 and the truncated results are cancelled.
“The borders are closed until further notice.”