A widely shared video of President Ali Bongo of Gabon, above, showed him at home in his residence on Wednesday, but it offered little insight into what’s actually happening in Libreville as the military announced it was removing Bongo from power.
“I don’t know what’s going on,” said the 64-year-old Bongo, who was re-elected to a third term on August 26. He has been in power since the 2009 death of his father, who ruled from 1967 forward. President Bongo said he does not know where family members, including his wife, are being held.
Gabonese soldiers said they were removing Gabon and the head of the Comité pour la Transition et la Restauration des Institutions (CTRI), Brice Oligui Nguema, would take over leadership of the West African nation. He is head of Gabon’s Republican Guard, according to numerous media reports.
“I would like to reassure national and international opinion that Gabon is honoring all of its commitments, both nationally and internationally,” he said in a CTRI statement. “I also pledge to restore democracy through future elections.”
The CTRI said it firmly rejected the results of the recent election, in which Bongo held nearly two-thirds of the vote. The statement also appealed to regional and international bodies in support of what it says is an effort to honor the will and aspirations of the Gabonese people. Gabon has close ties to the West and is a key partner on climate initiatives.