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Regional Bloc Calls for Return of Constitutional Order in Gabon

The Economic Community of Central African States condemns the use of force in Gabon and calls for a return to constitutional order.

The Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), a regional bloc in Central Africa, has strongly condemned the use of force to resolve political conflicts and called for a swift return to constitutional order in Gabon. In a statement, the Commission of ECCAS expressed its close monitoring of the situation in Gabon and announced that heads of state would hold an urgent meeting to discuss the political and security crisis.

The condemnation comes after army officers in Gabon seized power and placed President Ali Bongo under house arrest. This act has been widely condemned by other nations, including the United States, which has called for Bongo's release and the preservation of civilian rule. The State Department spokesperson, Matthew Miller, stated that the United States is deeply concerned about the evolving events in Gabon and firmly opposes military seizures or unconstitutional transfers of power. Miller also expressed concern about the lack of transparency and reports of irregularities surrounding the recent election in Gabon, in which Bongo won a third term.

The mutinous soldiers announced the coup on national television immediately after the nation's election commission declared Bongo as the winner. According to the officers, the election results were invalidated, all state institutions were dissolved, and all borders were closed until further notice. General Brice Clotaire Oligui Nguema, chief of the Republican Guard and Bongo's cousin, was designated as the president of the transitional committee.

In a video appearance, Bongo called on "friends of Gabon" to support him, but the news of his removal from power was celebrated by crowds in the capital, Libreville. Bongo first took office in 2009 after the death of his father, Omar Bongo, who had ruled the country for 42 years. Critics argue that the Bongo family has failed to distribute the country's oil and mining wealth among its population of 2.3 million people.

France, Gabon's former colonial power and one of its closest allies in Africa, has condemned the military coup and is closely monitoring the situation. The French government spokesperson, Olivier Veran, reaffirmed France's commitment to free and transparent elections, a sentiment echoed by Great Britain and Canada. France currently has approximately 400 troops stationed in Gabon. However, it is worth noting that a French accountability group has revealed that nine members of the Bongo family are under investigation in France for corruption-related charges. The family is allegedly linked to over $92 million worth of properties in France.

Gunfire was reported throughout Libreville following the officers' televised announcement. The U.S. Embassy has advised Americans in the capital to stay indoors and limit unnecessary movements. Flights out of Libreville have been canceled, and the city's port has ceased operations. The recent coup follows a pattern of political instability in West and Central Africa since 2020, with several coups taking place in the region. Bongo himself survived an attempted military takeover in January 2019 while recovering from a stroke.

The situation in Gabon remains fluid, and the international community continues to closely monitor developments.

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