By Mumbere Peter
The Gabon presidency has reported the death of two soldiers involved in the attempted coup of Monday morning.
The fifth officer and leader of the action has also been arrested, the presidency confirmed. An earlier report said four of the five plotters had been arrested.
It is not known the circumstances around which the two died. The leader of the mutiny was found hiding in a house close to the state broadcaster.
He managed to elude security forces deployed to arrest them after making an announcement on state radio earlier on.
Government assures situation under control, four soldiers picked
The Gabonese government spokesperson confirmed to Reuters and French channel, RFI, that the attempted coup had been brought under control.
“The government is in place, the institutions are in place,” Guy-Bertrand Mapangou told France24.
Apparently, there were only five soldiers involved in the attempt, out of which government confirmed that four had been arrested whiles one is on the run.
African Union condemns coup attempt
Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, said in a tweet that the attempted coup in Gabon was strongly condemnable. He added that the AU will not countenance an unconstitutional change of government.
Soldiers take over state radion, announcing coup
Military officers in Gabon have seized the national radio station calling for the need for national restoration, the Reuters news agency reported on Monday.
The soldiers also condemned the New Year speech delivered by President Ali Bongo Ondimba stating that they were disappointed with it.
A New Year’s address by Bongo“reinforced doubts about the president’s ability to continue to carry out the responsibilities of his office,” said Lieutenant Kelly Ondo Obiang, leader of the self-declared Patriotic Movement of the Defense and Security Forces of Gabon.
The president for the first time delivered his address from the Moroccan capital, Rabat, where he is recuperating from a stroke. He was transferred to Rabat from a Saudi hospital late last year.
Security and political watchers are pointing to the military’s move as an apparent coup attempt. The full extent of the involvement of the military top brass is not yet known.
Timeline of Bongo’s hospitalization
- October 25 – Bongo admitted to the King Fahd hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – source at presidency tells Jeune Afrique.
- October 29 – Government confirms hospitalization, warns against spread of fake news
- October 31 – Cameroon channel banned for six-months for reporting Bongo’s death
- November 11 – Bongo recovering his faculties, remains in charge – Presidency
- November 14 – Opposition demands clarity on Bongo’s health
- November 15 – Constitutional Court orders veep to chair cabinet meeting in Bongo’s absence
- November 21 – Jeune Afrique reports Bongo to convalesce in London
- November 24 – Venue of convalescence changes from London to Rabat
- November 29 – Bongo is flown to Morocco for medical recovery
- December 4 – First photos of Bongo pops up as Moroccan King visits him
- December 6 – Top government officials visit him in Rabat
- December 10 – Vice-president confirms that he suffered a stroke
- January 1, 2019 – Delivers New Year address from Rabat
Then minister Bongo took over the reins in the oil-rich central African nation in 2009 following the death of his father Omar Bongo who had been president for over four decades.
Ali won hotly contested polls in 2016 to secure his second term in charge. The main opponent and former colleague minister, Jean Ping, unsuccessfully contested the results. Ping, a former African Union chief, insists he was the constitutionally elected president.