Deposed Gabonese president Ali Bongo meets UN envoy after being freed by junta
Ali Bongo Ondimba, the former president of Gabon who was ousted by a military coup last week, has been shown on state TV meeting a UN official at his residence in Libreville.
The junta said that Bongo was free to travel abroad for medical check-ups, after being under house arrest since the coup.
The coup against Bongo
Bongo, 64, was deposed by a group of military officers on August 30, shortly after he was declared the winner of a disputed election that would have extended his family’s rule for another seven years. The coup leader, Gen. Brice Clotaire Oligui Nguema, said that Bongo had “confiscated power for several years, in flagrant violation of democratic rules” and that he had lost legitimacy after suffering a stroke in 2018 that left him incapacitated for months.
The junta also accused Bongo of corruption, nepotism and mismanagement of the oil-rich but impoverished nation.
The reaction to the coup
The coup was condemned by the African Union, the United Nations and several regional and international powers, who called for the restoration of constitutional order and respect for human rights. The UN Security Council also expressed concern about the potential instability and violence in Gabon, which has a history of coups and civil wars.
However, some Gabonese citizens welcomed the coup and celebrated the end of Bongo’s regime, which they saw as oppressive and illegitimate. Bongo had succeeded his father Omar Bongo in 2009, who had ruled Gabon for 42 years until his death. Both Bongos faced allegations of electoral fraud and human rights violations during their tenure.
The status of Bongo
Bongo had been held in house arrest since the coup, with limited access to communication and medical care. He had only appeared once in a video message, in which he appealed to his supporters to “make noise” and resist the junta.
On Wednesday, however, the junta announced that Bongo was “free to move given his state of health” and that he could “go abroad to carry out his medical check-ups” if he wished. The same day, state TV broadcast images of Bongo meeting Abdou Abarry, the head of the UN Regional Office for Central Africa, at his residence.
Abarry said that he found Bongo “in good health” and that they discussed the situation in Gabon and the region. It is not clear if Bongo will leave Gabon or what his future plans are.
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