Soldiers in Gabon have launched a coup to oust President Ali Bongo who has been in power since 2009.
The junior army officers have taken control of the national radio station which they used to announce a “National Restoration Council”.
According to media reports, gunfire was heard in the capital Libreville after troops denounced president Bongo and announced a new ‘restoration council’ aimed at restoring democracy in the oil rich nation.
Bongo, 59, is said to have suffered a stroke on October 24 while visiting Saudi Arabia and has since been treated in Morocco.
He sought to put an end to the rumours about his health with a televised New Year message in which he said he was feeling fine.
But Lieutenant Kelly Ondo Obiang, who is leader of the self-declared Patriotic Movement of the Defence and Security Forces of Gabon, said there are doubts about the ailing president’s ability to continue to carry out of the responsibilities of his office.
“Once again, one time too many, the wielders of power deceptively continue to instrumentalise the person of Ali Bongo Ondimba, a patient devoid of many of his physical and mental faculties,” said Obiang.
The insurgents called on soldiers to take control of the transport system, ammunition reserves and airports “in the interests of the nation”.
The government is yet to comment on the coup.
Bongo became president in 2009 following the death of his father Omar Bongo who ruled the west African country from 1967 until his death.
Last week, President Donald Trump has deployed soldiers to Gabon to protect US citizens amid fears of violent protests in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo following its presidential election.