A group of high-ranking Gabonese military officials announced on TV on August 30 that they had assumed control after President Ali Bongo’s reelection.
Appearing on state television channel Gabon 24, the officers said they represented all security and defense forces in the Central African nation.
The electoral commission said Mr Bongo had won just under two-thirds of the votes in an election the opposition argued was fraudulent.
His overthrow would end his family’s 53-year hold on power in Gabon.
“In the name of the Gabonese people … we have decided to defend the peace by putting an end to the current regime,” the officers said.
Tensions were high after Saturday’s presidential, parliamentary, and legislative vote, which saw Bongo claim victory, extending his family’s 56-year grip on power.
The opposition claimed multiple electoral malpractices and has been pushing for change in the oil and cocoa-rich but poverty-stricken nation.
There were concerns about the transparency of the electoral process due to the absence of international observers, the suspension of foreign broadcasts, and the government’s decision to cut off internet service and enforce a nationwide curfew after the election. These factors led to the soldiers taking control of the government.
The coup makes Gabon the latest African country to be taken over by the military following Burkina Faso, Mali, and the latest Niger Republic, which has prompted threats of an invasion by the Nigeria-led ECOWAS bloc.
Both of Mr. Bongo’s previous wins were disputed as fraudulent by opponents. This time, controversial changes were made to voting papers just weeks before election day.
Mr Bongo came to power when his father Omar died in 2009.
In 2018, he suffered a stroke which sidelined him for almost a year and led to calls for him to step aside.