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Gabon coup ‘deeply concerning’ – Commonwealth

The Commonwealth on Wednesday expressed deep concern over the military coup in Gabon.

A group of senior Gabonese military officers appeared on national 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.

The signs of a coup in Gabon come just weeks after members of the presidential guard in Niger seized power and established a junta.

The Secretary -General, Commonwealth, Patricia Scotland, voiced fears about the military coup in Gabon, which joined the grouping last year, adding that the bloc was monitoring the situation closely.

Scotland said “the situation is deeply concerning”.

“The Commonwealth Charter is clear that member states must uphold the rule of law and the principles of democracy at all times.”

Earlier, Prime Minister of France, Elisabeth Borne, said France was following events in Gabon “with the greatest attention”.

On Monday, President Emmanuel Macron denounced what he called an “epidemic” of coups in recent years in French-speaking Africa, from Mali and Burkina Faso to Guinea and most recently Niger.

Paris maintains a military presence in many of its former colonial territories, including Gabon, where it has 370 soldiers permanently deployed, some in the capital, Libreville, according to the French Ministry of the Armed Forces website.

Also, Russia has expressed concern about the situation in Gabon.

The Spokesperson, Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Russia, Maria Zakharova, said “Moscow has received with concern reports of a sharp deterioration in the internal situation in the friendly African country. We continue to closely monitor the development of the situation and hope for its speedy stabilisation.”

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Speaking to the French newspaper Le Monde, coup leader, Brice Nguema, said the president would “enjoy all his rights” after the military announced it has placed him under house arrest.

“He is a Gabonese head of state. He is retired. He enjoys all his rights. He is a normal Gabonese, like everyone else,” Nguema said.

Nguema will not confirm whether he will declare himself the new president of the West African country.

“I do not declare myself yet. I do not envisage anything for the moment,” he said.

“This is a debate that we are going to have with all the generals. We will meet at 2pm [13:00 GMT]. It will be about reaching a consensus. Everyone will put forward ideas, and the best ones will be chosen as well as the name of the person who will lead the transition,” he added.

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