Gabon's junta has named coup chief General Brice Oligui Nguema, head of the presidential Republican Guard, as the country's interim leader. The move comes after soldiers deposed President Ali Bongo Ondimba after he was declared the winner of national elections.
"General Oligui Nguema Brice was unanimously appointed chairman of the Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions, chairman of the transition," a soldier said late Wednesday on Gabon 24 state television.
Nguema, a cousin to Bongo, is the commander-in-chief of the Republican Guard – Gabon's most powerful security unit.
News of his promotion set off scenes of jubilation in the country, which has been ruled by the wealthy Bongo family for 56 years.
Bongo's ouster took place just minutes after the electoral commission declared him the winner of Saturday's polls, the results of which were swiftly cancelled by the military officials who announced the dissolution of “all the institutions of the republic”.
Coup leaders on Thursday restored internet access and lifted a suspension on the broadcasts from RFI, France 24 and TV5 Monde that had been ordered by Bongo's government on Saturday.
The deposed president, who was placed under house arrest, called on "friends" of Gabon "all over the world" to “make noise” in a video filmed from his residence.
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The United States, the UK, France and others condemned what appeared to be the eighth military coup in west and central Africa since 2020.
The United States urged Gabon's military to preserve civilian rule, while the UK condemned the "unconstitutional military takeover" of power in Gabon, calling for the restoration of constitutional government.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Thursday said Gabon's coup could not be compared to the crisis in Niger, arguing that officers intervened after Bongo won an unfair election.
"Naturally, military coups are not the solution, but we must not forget that in Gabon there had been elections full of irregularities," he said, arguing a rigged vote could amount to a civilian "institutional coup".
Borrell also told reporters on there was no plan to evacuate EU citizens from Gabon for now.