Gabon awaited on Thursday the next step of the new military junta, a day after it overthrew the government, appointed a new leader and detained longtime President Ali Bongo in his residence.
The military council announced the seizure of power on national television before dawn on Wednesday and annulled the election results announced minutes earlier, which included Bongo winning a third term, which means extending his family’s 56-year rule.
This coup is the eighth in West and Central Africa since 2020, and the second after Niger in a matter of weeks.
Most of the coups took place in francophone countries.
Military officers have also seized power in Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso and Chad, reversing the democratic gains made since the 1990s and alarming foreign powers with strategic interests in the region.
Gabon, a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), is a major producer of oil and manganese, and its ousted president has taken great strides to protect its sprawling virgin forests and endangered elephants.
But Bongo’s popularity has waned amid allegations of corruption, sham elections and his failure to spend more oil revenues on the country’s poor.
Ali Bongo came to power in 2009 after the death of his father Omar, who had ruled the country since 1967.
Hundreds celebrated in the streets of the capital, Libreville, on Wednesday, the army’s intervention, while the United Nations, the African Union and France, the country that colonized Gabon and had troops stationed there, condemned the coup.