Ali Bongo
Gabon's President Ali Bongo looks on during the One Forest Summit at the Presidential Palace in Libreville on March 2, 2023. (Photo by LUDOVIC MARIN / AFP)

Gabon Military Junta Releases Deposed President Ali Bongo

Gabonese military leaders have freed deposed President Ali Bongo from house detention, where he has been since they seized power last Wednesday.

The military junta also permitted Bongo to travel abroad for medical examinations.

Bongo had a stroke in 2018, and his health was a significant source of concern in the run-up to the presidential election of 2023.

Shortly after the coup, Bongo was able to broadcast a video in which he urged his supporters to “make noise.”

Shortly after he was proclaimed the winner of the election, which was contested by the opposition, the military seized power.

Col. Ulrich Manfoumbi, the country’s military spokesperson, declared Bongo’s release on Wednesday evening on state television.

Manfoumbi stated that the decision to release Bongo was based on “his state of health,” adding that “he may travel abroad for medical examinations if he so chooses.”

Since 2009, when he succeeded his father, who had governed the oil-rich nation for 41 years, Bongo has been in charge of the country.

On Monday, General Brice Oligui, the leader of the coup d’etat in Gabon, was sworn in as the country’s provisional president.

After a free and fair election, he pledged to return the country to civilian rule, but he did not specify a timeline for the transition.

The coup has been widely vilified throughout Africa and the West, including by France, a former colonial power with close ties to the Bongo family. The suspension of Gabon from the African Union

The military government had previously released a number of political prisoners, including Jean Rémi Yama, a pro-democracy activist and the head of the most influential trade union confederation.