Egypt’s Foreign Ministry has condemned the coup attempt in Gabon, according to a Monday statement.
The ministry stressed that Egypt stands by the legitimate authority in Gabon in accordance with the African Union’s (AU) governing principles. Egypt also called for respecting the rule of law and the constitution.
A small group of soldiers went on Gabon’s state radio early Monday, saying that a “national restoration council” had been formed in the country, with President Ali Bongo convalescing in Morocco after a stroke.
Fire shots were heard in the vicinity of the state television headquarters in the centre of the capital Libreville.
Bongo suffered a stroke last October and has since been out of the country receiving treatment.
The soldiers said that the president’s recent televised New Year’s Eve speech “reinforced doubts” about his “ability to carry out the responsibilities of his office,” according to Lieutenant Kelly Ondo Obiang.
Obiang leads the self-declared Patriotic Movement of the Defence and Security Forces of Gabon.
The Gabonese government’s spokesperson, Guy-Bertrand Mapangou, told AP that the situation was under control, with four co-conspirators arrested. Obiang is currently on the run, “but we will soon have him,” Mapangou said. Hours later, the presidency said the failed coup leader was arrested with two of his military followers killed.
AU Chief, Moussa Faki Mahamat, “strongly condemned” the coup attempt in Gabon on Twitter. “I reaffirm the AU’s total rejection of all unconstitutional change of power,” he wrote.
The 59-year-old president was hospitalised in October in Saudi Arabia. Since November, he has been continuing his treatment in Morocco.
Bongo had acknowledged his health problems in his New Year’s speech but said that he was recovering.
Gabon is one of Africa’s top oil producers, France’s closest ally in the region, and has been ruled for more than 50 years by the Bongo family. Ali Bongo succeeded his father, Omar, who died in 2009.
Despite its huge natural resources, about one third of Gabon’s population still lives below the poverty line. The African nation has been struggling economically since 2015, facing high unemployment rate, frequent labour strikes, companies operating on slowdown, and austerity measures being imposed.