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AU, France Condemn Gabon Coup Attempt, Rebel Leader On The Run

The head of the African Union has tweeted a reaction to the news from Gabon.

The AU commission chairman, Muossa Faki Mahamat, says the organisation “strongly condemns the coup attempt”:

In a tweet, the chairman said: The AU strongly condemns the coup attempt this morning in. I reaffirm the AU’s total rejection of all unconstitutional change of power.

France has also condemned the attempt by soldiers to overthrow the government in its former colony Gabon and advised its citizens to avoid the capital.

“We condemn any attempt to change government outside constitutional rules,” French foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll said in a statement.

“Gabon’s stability can only be ensured in strict compliance with the provisions of its constitution.”

Journalists have pointed to the close and personal links between Gabon’s elite families as evidence of powerful networks of patronage. 

Under former President Omar Bongo – the father of the current president – Gabon was seen by critics as a key part of the shadowy “Françafrique” network.

The term refers to allegations that France has covertly intervened to support African dictatorships and overthrow unfriendly governments if it served French interests.

Meanwhile, the Gabonese government has opened an investigation into the attempted coup this morning, a spokesman told the BBC.

Guy-Bertrand Mapangou said the investigation aimed “to shed light on the matter because they mentioned some politicians in their statement”.

He was referring to a statement that young soldiers broadcast on state radio this morning, urging other soldiers and civilians to rise up against the state.

But Mr Mapangou dismissed the idea that a movement is behind the coup attempt.

“They say they were part of a movement but there was no movement,” Mr Mapangou said.

He added that the lieutenant who urged the nation to rise up on the radio is currently on the run and “has no support from anyone in the security forces, even his own company”.

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