Gabon’s coup leaders named Brice Oligui Nguema as the country’s transitional president on Wednesday, according to a statement read on national television.
“General Brice Oligui Nguema was unanimously appointed chairman of the Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions, President of the Transition,” the statement said following a meeting of all military commanders and chiefs of staff.
Gen. Nguema, the former head of the country’s most powerful security unit, the Gabonese Republican Guard, an independent military formation responsible for protecting government officials and buildings, is reportedly a cousin of deposed President Ali Bongo.
According to the statement, Nguema ordered the restoration of internet services as well as the signals of international radio and television channels in Gabon shortly after taking office.
Nguema, the son of a military officer, attended the Royal Military Academy of Meknes in Morocco.
He then served as an aide-de-camp to the ousted leader’s father Omar Bongo, who ruled Gabon for nearly 42 years until his death in 2009.
After Ali Bongo took power in 2009, Nguema was posted to Morocco and Senegal for diplomatic missions. He returned a decade later to command the guard.
The announcement said that Nguema insisted on the need to “maintain calm and serenity in our beautiful country.”
“As we enter a new era, we will guarantee peace, stability and dignity for our beloved Gabon.”
On Saturday, authorities had reportedly ordered an internet shutdown as voting ended in presidential, parliamentary and local elections to avoid the “risk of violence and the spread of disinformation.”
On the same day, authorities announced the suspension of French media channels France 24, RFI and TV5 Monde from broadcasting in Gabon.
Meanwhile, a nightly curfew will remain in place until further notice.
Malika Bongo Ondimba, the daughter of the deposed Gabonese president, sent her congratulations to General Nguema in a post on the social network X, formerly known as Twitter.
She contested in last Saturday’s legislative elections.
Gabonese draped in the colors of the country’s flag — green, yellow and blue — took to the streets to show their support for the coup leaders, videos on social media and in local media showed.
“The answer to an electoral coup is a military coup. We thank the army for acting with dignity. The results were rigged, but for God’s sake, the military took charge,” Noel Koumba told news portal GabonActu.
Guy Serges Moussavou, another protestor, said: “We had been waiting for this moment for a long time. We thought the military didn’t have the guts, but they disproved us.”
“For us, the elections were rigged, yet we had voted for change. But God listened to his people.”
According to local media reports, jubilant protestors tore down posters bearing an image of the president of the ruling Gabonese Democratic Party in the capital Libreville and replaced them with those of the opposition, mainly of the consensual candidate in last week’s presidential election, Albert Ondo Ossa.
Elsewhere, Gabonese nationals living in Senegal were dispersed by police after they tried to storm the Gabonese embassy in the capital Dakar to show their support for the coup. Videos on social media showed dozens of Gabonese singing their national anthem in front of the embassy.
A group of senior Gabonese army officers appeared on national television early Wednesday and announced they had seized power.
The move came shortly after the Gabonese Election Center confirmed that incumbent President Bongo officially won a third term as president with 64.27% of the vote.
Bongo had been in power for more than a decade.
Gabon is the latest African country to witness a recent military coup after Niger last month and Mali in 2022.