In a dramatic turn of events, a group of senior Gabonese military officers, on Wednesday, shook the continent, after appearing on national television, declaring their seizure of power from President Ali Bongo.
Gabon has been ruled with a tight grip by the Bongo family, with Omar Bongo becoming the small African nation’s second president, ruling for a staggering 42 years, from 1967 to 2009, with the mantle of leadership passing unto his son Ali who ruled for 14 years from 2009 until his ouster from power in August 2023.
The claim of the coup leaders centres on the recent general election, which they argue lacks credibility, asserting that they represent all of Gabon’s security and defense forces.
In a televised address, they announced the cancellation of election results, the immediate closure of all borders, and the dissolution of state institutions. As they spoke, the unmistakable sounds of gunfire echoed through the capital, Libreville, as reported by a Reuters journalist.
Who is Ali Bongo?
Born February 9, 1959, Alain Bernard Bongo, aka Ali Bongo hails from Brazzaville. According to reports, Bongo’s mother was 18 years old at the time of his birth.
During his father’s presidency, he was Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1989 to 1991, represented Bongoville as a Deputy in the National Assembly from 1991 to 1999, and was Minister of Defense from 1999 to 2009.
After his father’s death, he won the 2009 Gabonese presidential election. He was reelected in 2016, in elections marred by numerous irregularities, arrests, human rights violations and post-election protests and violence.
The ousted Gabonese President was educated at a private school in Neuilly, France, and then studied law at the Sorbonne.
In 2018, Bongo received an honorary doctorate of law degree from Wuhan University in China.
In 1977, he released a funk album, A Brand New Man, produced by Charles Bobbit.
Bongo married two wives Sylvia Valentin (French) and Inge Lynn Collins Bongo (American) and later divorced them in 1994 and 2015, respectively. He has one daughter, Malika Bongo Ondimba, and three sons, Noureddin Bongo Valentin, Jalil Bongo Ondimba and Bilal Bongo —whom he and Sylvia adopted in 2002.
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