LIBREVILLE (Reuters) – Gabonese President Ali Bongo, speaking from apparent house arrest on Wednesday, asked the international community to “make noise” to support him and his family in a video shared widely online after military officers declared they had seized power.
The video was confirmed as authentic by BTP Advisors, a PR firm that has worked closely with Bongo on his election campaign.
“The people here have arrested me and my family. My son is somewhere, my wife is in another place … Right now, I’m at the residence and nothing is happening. I don’t know what’s going on,” Bongo said in English, addressing the camera from a chair in what looked like a richly furnished state room.
“I (want) to send a message to all the friends we have all over the world to tell them to make noise.”
He was smartly dressed and showed no outward signs of mistreatment. He spoke calmly, pausing occasionally as if searching for the right words to convey the urgency of his message.
Military officers announced on national television earlier that the armed forces had taken control and placed Bongo under house arrest. His son, Noureddin Bongo Valentin, and others had also been arrested, the officers said.
If successful, the Gabon coup would be the eighth in West and Central Africa since 2020 and end the Bongo family’s 56-year grip on power. It follows Saturday’s disputed election, whose results, including Bongo’s announced victory, the military officers said had been annulled.
(Reporting by Edward McAllister; Writing by Alessandra Prentice; Editing by Nick Macfie)