2 suspects killed, 7 captured in failed Gabon coup attempt

Charlene Craig
January 9, 2019

The government of the west African country of Gabon said the country's "situation was under control" on Monday after several soldiers attempted a coup d'etat.

In his speech on state radio, Obiang had said the army high command failed in its mission to defend the country and called on the rank and file soldiers to "take control of all means of transport, army bases and security posts, armories, and airports".

Lieutenant Kelly Ondo Obiang of the Gabon Army said that the New Year's address by the ailing President "reinforced doubts about the president's ability to continue to carry out of the responsibilities of his office".

Those soldiers have been taken into custody and President Ali Bongo's Government remains in control, the spokesman said. Gabon's government put down the coup attempt, according to multiple news reports.

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"I am locked up in my house like many others, but information I have is that fighting is going on" around the offices of the state broadcaster RTG, former Gabonese prime minister Raymond Ndong Sima said by telephone from Libreville.

A curfew has been imposed over the capital, Libreville, and the internet was cut.

The worldwide community condemned the coup attempt, including former colonial ruler France which urged its 8900 citizens registered in Gabon to avoid moving around Libreville. "Critics have accused the family of profiting from the country's natural resources while not investing enough in basic services for the population of more than two million people", AP notes.

"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.

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"The eagerly awaited day has arrived when the army has chose to put itself on the side of the people in order to save Gabon from chaos".

In a brief New Year's speech recorded in Morocco, he acknowledged his health problems without giving details, and called the country "indivisible". His family has ruled the oil-rich country for over half a century.

President Ali Bongo, 59, has been receiving treatment in Morocco since November 2018. President Donald Trump told US Congress on Friday the first of about 80 troops arrived in Gabon last Wednesday to protect American citizens and diplomatic facilities if violence breaks out in the DRC capital, Kinshasa. In 2016, during his re-election, violent protests broke out amid claims of fraud.

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