On Wednesday, military leaders lifted newly installed general Brice Oligui Nguema aloft through the streets of Libreville after former president Ali Bongo Ondimba had been placed under house arrest.
The coup leaders said people around the president had been arrested for “high betrayal of state institutions, massive embezzlement of public funds and international financial embezzlement”.
A spokesman added that Mr Bongo’s “unpredictable, irresponsible governance” risked leading the country into chaos with nine members of the former president’s family currently under investigation in France.
The opposition, however, argued the election was fraudulent while alleging that Mr Bongo had committed years of embezzlement during his rule over the African nation which is a member of OPEC, with a production of some 181,000 barrels of crude oil a day.
“At the dawn of a new era, we will guarantee the peace, stability and dignity of our beloved Gabon,” Lt. Col. Ulrich Manfoumbi said on state TV Wednesday.
After being arrested, the former president pleaded for support in a video showing him sitting in a chair. “I’m calling you to make noise, to make noise, to make noise really,” he said in the video.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the coup and called on military leaders to ensure the safety of Bongo and his family, spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
“The UK condemns the unconstitutional military takeover of power in Gabon and calls for the restoration of constitutional government,” the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office said on Wednesday.
“We acknowledge concerns raised regarding the recent electoral process, including restrictions on media freedom.”
The coup is the eighth in West and Central Africa since 2020, and the second – after Niger – in as many months.