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Gabon thwarts coup attempt, soldiers involved arrested

Xinhua | Updated: 2019-01-08 15:34
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Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba arrives for a group picture at the BRICS summit meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa, July 27, 2018. [Photo/Agencies]

LIBREVILLE - Gabon thwarted a brief coup attempt on Monday and arrested four soldiers involved. International organizations, like the United Nations and the African Union (AU), and countries have condemned the coup attempt.

Gabonese government spokesman Guy-Bertrand Mapangou said that renegade soldiers entered the national radio station in the capital Libreville around 4 am local time Monday (0300 GMT) to announce the establishment of a "national council of the restoration", according to Radio France International (RFI).

In the statement, Ondo Obiang Kelly, lieutenant of the Republican Guard, announced that they were disappointed by the message delivered on Dec 31 by President Ali Bongo, which "rather heightened doubts about his ability to assume the office of President of the Republic."

Bongo is currently recovering in Morocco after suffering a stroke in late October 2018. In the message he gave to the nation on Dec 31, Bongo said that his health was improving.

Security forces stormed the radio station in Libreville, reportedly arresting their leader and freeing journalists or technicians who had been forced to help rebels make their appeal.

The Gabonese authorities said that the situation was under control and all was calm in the capital.

Chairperson of African Union (AU) Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat on Monday strongly condemned the coup attempt in Gabon.

In a statement via twitter, he stressed that the 55-member pan-African bloc's firm stance against unconstitutional moves, and reaffirmed the AU's total rejection of all unconstitutional change of power.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday condemned the attempt to topple President Bongo.

"As a principle, the secretary-general has always stood against unconstitutional changes of power, especially by force and in that light he condemns the attempted coup that took place this (Monday) morning in Gabon," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said during a regular briefing.

"His special representative for Central Africa Francois Lounceny Fall is monitoring the events closely and is ready to provide good offices if and as required," the spokesman said.

"The secretary-general does take note that calm appears to have returned to Libreville and calls on all actors to follow the constitution," Dujarric said.

Egypt's Foreign Ministry also condemned the coup attempt in Gabon, saying "Egypt stands by the legitimate authority in Gabon in accordance with the African Union's governing principles", and calling for respect for the rule of law and the constitution in the West African country.

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