AU warns against ‘unconstitutional change’ in Gabon

Addis Ababa, Monday

The African Union and France warned against any “unconstitutional” change of power in Gabon, whose government on Monday claimed to have foiled an attempted takeover.

AU chief Moussa Faki Mahamat, in a tweet, said his organisation “strongly condemns the coup attempt” in Gabon.  “I reaffirm the AU’s total rejection of all unconstitutional change of power,” said Faki, who is chairman of the AU commission. Separately, France, which ruled Gabon from 1885 until independence in 1960, said it condemned “any extra-constitutional attempt at regime change.”

“The stability of Gabon can only be assured by strict adherence to the provisions of the constitution,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll said in Paris.

The presidency on Monday said the chief military rebel who led a thwarted coup in Gabon on Monday had been arrested and two of his commandos killed after they stormed into a public radio station.

“The situation is under control,” the presidency statement said, adding that hostages had been freed from the radio station. A group of soldiers had attempted to take power and called in a radio appeal for a popular uprising against ailing President Ali Bongo who is abroad recovering from the stroke.

The junior officers claimed they seized power “to restore democracy” in oil-rich Gabon, where the ailing leader’s family has ruled for 50 years.

Tanks and armoured vehicles could be seen in the capital Libreville. One of the rebels was on the run for a brief period, before being found hiding under a bed, reports Radio France Internationale.

“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.

Mapangou said the army generals, civil society and opposition leaders mentioned in the rebels’ statement as potential supporters would be investigated.    – Agencies

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