There is still confusion in the Gabonese capital, Libreville, after some junior military officials announced very early on Monday that they had overthrown President Ali Bongo who is currently receiving treatment in the Moroccan capital, Rabat.
A source close to the Gabonese military has just revealed that power supply has been cut off in strategic neighbourhoods in the nation’s capital to preempt the coup plotters from making great strides.
Though power supply and the Internet have been cut off, it is still possible to reach people in Gabon through the telephone. Many Gabonese are apprehensive as they are not getting much information about the situation following the government’s decision to shut down the Internet.
Currently, the country’s military that is loyal to President Bongo is in control of Libreville’s downtown core where the ministry of petroleum, the senate and other landmarks are located.
The source has also debunked the fact that the coup plotters have been arrested. The coup plotters are in total control of the radio and television building and dislodging them will take heavy artillery and long hours of fighting, our source said.
The source says that the country is being controlled by the coup plotters, adding that those who are announcing that everything is under control are speaking out of the country while the coup plotters are within the country.
Activists and other supporters of the coup have been trying to reach the French embassy, but the French government has deployed French Gendarmes around the country’s embassy in Libreville. Meanwhile, the French government is trying to talk to both parties with the objective of hammering out a negotiated settlement.
Our source has also said the negotiations are not going very fast as many people would have loved, as residents of the capital city have been holed up in their homes since the junior army officers declared that they had overthrown the government.
It should be recalled that the government’s spokesperson, Guy-Bertrand Mapangou, had earlier announced that the political situation in Gabon was “under control” .
He added that all five of the rebels who tried to take charge had been arrested by the authorities, stressing that the junior officers had only claimed that they had seized power “to restore democracy” in oil-rich Gabon, where the ailing leader’s family has ruled for 50 years.
It is also being reported that tanks and armored vehicles could be seen in the capital Libreville. “The situation is calm. The gendarmes who are often stationed there have taken control of the entire area around the radio and TV headquarters, so everything is back to normal”, said Guy-Bertrand Mapangou. a government spokesman.
There is still uncertainty in the country as very little information is coming out of government sources. Despite efforts to negotiate, the French government has clearly condemned the coup.
“We condemn any attempt to change government outside constitutional rules,” French foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll said in a statement seen by Reuters news agency. “Gabon’s stability can only be ensured in strict compliance with the provisions of its constitution,” she said.
By Pierre Onana in Libreville