Military rulers in Gabon were on Friday digesting the decision of the African Union (AU) to suspend the country from the regional bloc following the overthrow of President Ali Bongo.
The AU’s peace and security council announced the move on social media in the first regional response to the eighth coup in West and Central Africa since 2020.
It said that Gabon would be barred from all AU activities, organs and institutions until constitutional order is restored.
General Brice Oligui Nguema, the coup leader and former head of the presidential guard, is due to be sworn in as president on Monday.
On Wednesday, senior officers in Gabon said they had seized power shortly after Bongo was declared the winner of Saturday’s election.
The officers rejected the vote which would have given Bongo a third term in office, dissolved state institutions and closed the country’s borders.
Opposition seeks election win
The opposition Alternance 2023 alliance had remained silent since the coup but on Thursday called on the putschists to acknowledge that it had won the election.
The alliance said in a statement that it invited the defence and security forces to talks in order to work out the best solution following the vote.
Led by university professor Albert Ondo Ossa, Alternance had earlier accused Bongo of fraud and demanded he hand over power without bloodshed.
In a statement on Thursday, the military leaders said domestic flights would be resumed but land and air borders would remain shut.
The events in Gabon follow recent coups in Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Chad and Niger.
The Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) threatened military intervention in Niger after a coup there in July and imposed sanctions.
But the coup leaders have defied the regional bloc and not backed down.
In Gabon, Bongo’s popularity had worn thin amid claims of corruption, sham elections and a failure to spend more of Gabon’s oil and mineral wealth on the country’s poor. He took over in 2009 on the death of his father Omar, who had ruled since 1967.
France, the United States, Canada and Britain have all expressed concern about the coup. But they have not made direct calls for reinstating Bongo.
The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said the election had been full of irregularities adding that the EU rejected the seizure of power by force.
A lack of international observers, the suspension of some foreign broadcasts, and the decision to cut internet service after the election raised concerns about the transparency of the vote.