Brice Oligui Nguema, head of the African Union (AU) Commission, has condemned the coup in Gabon and urged the army to guarantee the physical integrity of the President, his family and those in government.
Information Nigeria had reported that rebel officers in the oil-rich central African state announced earlier today that they’ve seized power following disputed elections, in which President Ali Bongo Ondimba was declared winner.
Brice Oligui Nguema, head of his presidential guard told Le Monde newspaper that Bongo had “been placed in retirement” after rebel officers said they had toppled him.
“He has been placed in retirement. He has all his rights. He’s an ordinary Gabonese person, like everyone,” Nguema said.
He further denied that he had become the leader of the putsch.
Bongo, 64, whose family has ruled Gabon for over 55 years, was placed under house arrest and one of his sons arrested for treason, the coup leaders disclosed.
A statement published on the AU website in French, said: “(Faki) is following with great concern the situation in the Gabonese Republic and strongly condemns the attempted coup d’etat in the country as a way of resolving its current post-electoral crisis.”
Faki further called on the “national army and security forces to adhere strictly to their republican vocation, to guarantee the physical integrity of the president of the republic, members of his family as well as those of his government”.
The AU commission chief also described Wednesday’s events as a “flagrant violation” of the legal and political instruments of the Addis Ababa-headquartered African Union.
“(Faki) encourages all political, civil and military actors in Gabon to favour peaceful political paths leading to the rapid return to democratic constitutional order in the country,” the statement added.
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu has expressed concern about the coup in the West Coast of Central Africa.
Ajuri Ngelale, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, while briefing State House Correspondent in Abuja posited that Tinubu would consult with other Heads of State and Government in the African Union on the Gabon crisis with a view to determining the way forward for the natural resource-rich country.
‘’President Bola Tinubu is watching closely with deep concern for the country’s social political stability and at the seeming autocratic contention apparently spreading across different regions of our beloved continent.
‘’The President as a man who has made significant sacrifices in his life in the course of advancing and defending democracy is of the belief that power belongs in the hands of Africa’s great people and not in the barrel of a loaded gun,’’ he said.
Mr Ngelale said the president affirmed that the rule of law and recourse to the constitutional resolutions and instruments of electoral dispute needed to be used in the matters of democratic challenges.
’This is towards a comprehensive consensus on the next steps forwards with respect to how the power in Gabon will play out and how the continent will respond to contagious autocracy spreading across the continent,” he said.
The Commonwealth has also expressed fear about the military takeover in the country with Secretary-General Patricia Scotland saying the situation is “deeply concerning.”
“The Commonwealth Charter is clear that member states must uphold the rule of law and the principles of democracy at all times,” Scotland said.