Ousted President Ali Bongo now free

Gabon’s military leaders say they have freed deposed President Ali Bongo from house arrest, where he has been since they seized power last week.

This includes permission to travel abroad for medical check-ups.

He suffered a stroke in 2018 and his health was a major source of concern for many in the build-up to the 2023 presidential election.

The army seized power shortly after he had been declared the winner of that election, disputed by the opposition.

The announcement to free Mr Bongo follows pressure from regional bloc Eccas and neighbouring countries.

In a communique read on state TV on Wednesday evening, military spokesperson Col Ulrich Manfoumbi said the decision to free Mr Bongo was due to “his state of health”.

“He may, if he wishes, travel abroad for medical check-ups,” he added.

Mr Bongo had been in power in the oil-rich country since 2009, when he succeeded his father who had ruled the country for 41 years.

The coup has been widely condemned in Africa and the West, including by France, the former colonial power which had close ties to the Bongo family. Gabon has been suspended from the African Union.

Shortly after the coup, Mr Bongo managed to release a video calling on supporters around the world to “make noise”.

Coup leader Gen Brice Oligui Nguema was sworn in as transitional president on Monday. He vowed to return the country to civilian rule after free and fair elections but did not give a timetable for the transfer of power.

The junta released other political prisoners, including pro-democracy activist and leader of the most powerful trade union confederation, Jean Rémi Yama, earlier this week.

Leave a Comment