Gabon reopens borders three days after Military coup

A photo shows coup supporters cheering police officers in Libreville, Gabon, on Aug 30, 2023. [AP Photo]

Gabon reopened its borders on Saturday, an army spokesman said, three days after closing them during a military coup in which President Ali Bongo was ousted.

Military officers led by General Brice Oligui Nguema seized power Wednesday, placed Bongo under house arrest and installed Nguema as head of state, ending the Bongo family's 56-year hold on power.

The coup — the ninth in the continent in three years — has raised concerns about a contagion of military takeovers across the region that have erased democratic progress made in the last two decades.

Coup leaders have come under international pressure to restore civilian government but said Friday night that they would not rush to hold elections.

The land, sea and air borders were opened because the junta was "concerned with preserving respect for the rule of law, good relations with our neighbors and all states of the world" and wanted to keep its "international commitments," the army spokesman said 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 share Gabon's oil and mining wealth.

The takeover in Gabon follows coups in Guinea, Chad and Niger, plus two each in Mali and Burkina Faso since 2020, worrying international powers with strategic interests at stake.