DAKAR, Sept 2 (Reuters) – Gabon reopened its borders on Saturday, an army spokesman said, three days after closing them during a military coup that ousted President Ali Bongo.
The military led by General Brice Oligui Nguema seized power on Wednesday, placing Bongo under house arrest and installing Nguema as head of state, ending 56 years of Bongo family power.
The coup – the eighth in West and Central Africa in three years – has raised concerns about the contagion of military coups across the region, which have wiped out the democratic gains made in the past two decades.
The coup leaders have come under international pressure to restore civilian rule, but on Friday night they said they would not rush to hold elections.
The land, sea and air borders were opened because the junta is “concerned with preserving respect for the rule of law, good relations with our neighbors and all the states of the world” and wants to maintain its “international commitments”, said the spokesman for the army on national television.
Bongo was elected in 2009, taking over from his late father Omar, who came to power in 1967. Opponents say the family did little to carve up Gabon’s oil and mining wealth.
The seizure of power in Gabon follows coups in Guinea, Chad and Niger, in addition to two in Mali and Burkina Faso since 2020, which worries international powers with strategic interests at stake.
(Reporting by Jyoti Narayan in Bengaluru and Cooper Inveen in Dakar; writing by Edward McAllister; editing in Spanish by Carlos Serrano)