Gabonese military officers announce they have seized power

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A group of senior Gabonese military officers appeared on television in the early hours of Wednesday and said they had taken power, after the state election body announced President Ali Bongo had won a third term.

Appearing on the television channel Gabon 24, the officers said they represented all security and defence forces in the Central African nation. They said the election results were cancelled, all borders closed until further notice and state institutions dissolved.

There was no immediate comment from the government of the OPEC-member nation.

“In the name of the Gabonese people … we have decided to defend the peace by putting an end to the current regime,” the officers said.

Tensions were running high amid fears of unrest after Saturday’s presidential, parliamentary, and legislative vote, which saw Bongo seeking to extend his family’s 56-year grip on power while the opposition pushed for change in the oil and cocoa-rich but poverty-stricken nation.

A lack of international observers, the suspension of some foreign broadcasts, and the authorities’ decision to cut internet service and impose a night-time curfew nationwide after the poll has raised concerns about the transparency of the electoral process.