A group of senior military officers in Gabon announced on Wednesday, August 30, 2023, that they have seized power from President Ali Bongo following contentious polls that prolonged his family’s rule.

The military officers, representing all security and defense forces in the Central African nation, declared the coup on national television after the country’s electoral umpire confirmed President Ali Bongo’s third-term victory.

Amid reports of gunfire in the capital Libreville, Reuters conveyed that the soldiers asserted control. The Junta enacted several measures, including the cancellation of election results, border closures, and dissolution of state institutions.

Notably, there was no immediate government response.

“In the name of the Gabonese people, we have chosen to safeguard peace by ending the current regime,” proclaimed the officers.

Tensions escalated as the aftermath of Saturday’s presidential, parliamentary, and legislative vote unfolded. Bongo aimed to sustain his family’s 56-year dominance, while the opposition sought change in the oil and cocoa-rich yet impoverished nation.

International observers’ absence, suspension of foreign broadcasts, and the imposition of an internet blackout and nationwide curfew after the poll raised concerns about electoral transparency.

The Gabonese Election Centre disclosed on Wednesday that Bongo secured 64.27% of the vote, with his primary contender, Albert Ondo Ossa, attaining 30.77% in second place.

At 64 years old, Bongo followed in his father Omar’s footsteps as president in 2009. Facing 18 challengers, including six supporting Ondo Ossa, Bongo and his team dismissed fraud allegations.

The turmoil echoes the 2016 violence, during which the parliament building was set ablaze amid protests against Bongo’s disputed second-term re-election. Notably, the government had previously enforced an internet shutdown during that period.