Military officers overthrow govt in Gabon, put president under house arrest
August 30, 2023 03:47 PM
Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba is being detained at home and one of his sons has been arrested for "treason," military officers said 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 (PDG) "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.
Gabon since independence in 10 dates
Key dates since independence in Gabon, the oil-rich West African country where army officers said Wednesday they had deposed President Ali Bongo.
- 1960: independence -
Gabon becomes independent from France on August 17, 1960, with Leon M'Ba elected president the following February.
Three years later he is ousted in a coup, before being reinstated following a military intervention by France.
- 1967: Bongo era begins -
M'Ba dies in 1967 and is succeeded by his deputy, Albert-Bernard Bongo.
Bongo sets up a one-party state, ruling with an iron fist and benefitting from oil exploitation.
He converts to Islam in 1973, changing his name to Omar Bongo.
As sole candidate, he is elected president in 1973, 1979 and 1986.
A multi-party system is introduced after social unrest and riots in 1990 but Bongo nonetheless wins the elections in 1993, 1998 and 2005.
- 2009: from father to son -
Bongo dies in June 2009 and, after a controversial election that August, one of his sons, Ali Bongo, is sworn in in October as president.
Despite a challenge, the constitutional court approves the election results but there is deadly post-poll violence.
The opposition slams Bongo's "authoritarianism".
In 2010 French prosecutors open a probe into property in France owned by Bongo and other African heads of state.
- 2014: social unrest -
Violence breaks out in 2014 between supporters of the opposition and security forces during a banned demonstration calling for Bongo to stand down.
- 2016: post-election turmoil -
The 2016 vote takes place in a tense domestic climate.
The government is battling various fronts, with strikes, budget problems and plummeting oil prices.
Bongo's main rival is opposition leader Jean Ping, a veteran diplomat who once headed the African Union Commission and held senior posts at the United Nations.
When the electoral commission announces Bongo has won, a massive wave of deadly post-election violence breaks out.
- 2018: stroke -
Bongo has a stroke in October 2018 while in Saudi Arabia.
He is transferred to Morocco for treatment and his convalescence lasts several months.
- 2019: failed coup -
On January 7, 2019 renegade soldiers carry out a coup bid, profiting from Bongo's absence.
- 2022: nine of Bongo's children charged -
From March to July 2022, French prosecutors charge nine of Omar Bongo's children with corruption, including for embezzlement of public funds related to assets acquired in France.
They claim the family held assets estimated at 85 million euros in France.
- 2023: new constitution -
In April 2023, the Gabonese parliament votes to amend the constitution and reduce the president's term from seven to five years.
Sections of the opposition criticise the changes, in particular the end of two rounds of voting, as a means of "facilitating the re-election" of Bongo.
- 2023: post-election coup -
Military officers said Wednesday they have overturned the government in an apparent coup after it is announced that President Ali Bongo had won a contested election with 64.27 percent of the vote.