September 7, 2023

Gabon junta frees ousted president Ali Bongo

Ali Bongo

Gabon’s military coup leaders have freed the deposed President Ali Bongo and allowed him to travel abroad for medical reasons.

The junta spokesperson, Col. Ulrich Manfoumbi made this known in state television on Wednesday, according to CNN.

Bongo has reportedly been held under house arrest since the coup in the Central African nation in late August.

“Given his state of health, the former President of the Republic Ali Bongo Ondimba is free to move about. He may, if he wishes, travel abroad to receive medical check-ups,” junta spokesperson Col. Ulrich Manfoumbi said on state television, reading a statement from transitional leader Gen. Brice Oligui Nguema.

The transitional leader Gen Brice Oligui Nguema-led junta also released images showing Bongo greeting Abdou Abarry, head of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa, at Bongo’s residence in the capital Libreville.

The deposed Gabonese leader has been rarely seen since the coup. Shortly after his overthrow, a video surfaced of him appealing to supporters to “make noise” after military officers placed him on house arrest.

“The people here have arrested me… I’m in the residence… I don’t know what is going on,” he said in the footage.

Bongo, 64, suffered a stroke in 2018 and spent months outside Gabon, receiving treatment in Morocco raising questions about whether he was fit to continue as president, triggering an unsuccessful coup in 2019.

He had been in power for 14 years since succeeding his father Omar Bongo in 2009 and sought another term in last month’s disputed elections.