Rebel Chief Who Led Failed Coup in Gabon Arrested: Presidency

The chief military rebel who led a thwarted coup in Gabon on Monday, 7 January, was arrested and two of his commandos were killed, after they stormed into a public radio station, according to the presidency.

"The situation is under control," the presidency statement said, according to Al Jazeera. Authorities have regained control of the state broadcasting offices and a major thoroughfare in the capital, Libreville, which were the only areas taken over by the officers.

Earlier on Monday, a soldier who identified himself as Lt Obiang Ondo Kelly, commander of the Republican Guard, read out a statement saying the military had seized control of the government of the West African country. He was flanked by two other soldiers holding weapons and all were dressed in camouflage uniforms and green berets.

He had said they were taking over to "restore democracy." Those soldiers have been taken into custody and President Ali Bongo's government remains in control, a government spokesperson has said.

A curfew has been imposed over the capital, Libreville, and the internet has been cut. The city on the Atlantic Ocean coast is being patrolled by military tanks and armed vehicles.

The African Union affirmed its support for the Bongo government.

"“The African Union strongly condemns the coup attempt this morning in Gabon. I reaffirm the AU’s rejection of all anti-constitutional change.”" - Moussa Faki Mahamat, head of the African Union Commission

Bongo, in power since 2009, has been out of the country since October amid reports that he had a stroke. He recently addressed the country in a New Year's message that was filmed in Morocco, where he has been receiving medical treatment.

Oil-rich Gabon has been ruled for more than half a century by Bongo and his father, Omar, who died in 2009. Critics have accused the family of profiting from the country's natural resources while not investing enough in basic services for the population of more than 2 million.

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In his brief New Year's speech, the 59-year-old Bongo declared that the country was "indivisible" and acknowledged his health problems without giving details. "A difficult period," he called it, and a challenge that he surmounted "thanks to God." He promised to put all of his efforts into improving the daily quality of life for Gabon's people.

The French-educated Bongo, who was the country's defense minister before becoming president, narrowly won re-election in 2016 while opposition rival Jean Ping claimed irregularities and continues to call himself the country's real president.

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(With inputs from The Associated Press)

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