In Gabon a group of soldiers and police officers announced the “end of the current regime” in a television speech. The twelve men also announced on Wednesday on the Gabon 24 channel that they would cancel last weekend’s presidential and parliamentary elections and dissolve “all the institutions of the republic.” The borders of the Central African country remained closed until further notice.

The military justified the step with the “irresponsible, unpredictable governance” that has led to a “continuous decline in social cohesion” that threatens to plunge the country “into chaos”. They stated that they spoke for the “Committee on Transition and Institutional Restoration”.

Journalists from the AFP news agency reported shots in the capital, Libreville.

A few hours earlier, the electoral authority had declared Head of State Ali Bongo Ondimba the winner of the election with 64.27 percent of the vote. Bongo’s biggest challenger, Albert Ondo Ossa, received 30.77 percent of the votes.

Bongo was seeking his third term in office, continuing his family’s more than 50-year rule in a country where, despite oil wealth, most of the population lives in poverty. He took over the post in 2009 from his father, Omar Bongo, who had ruled from 1967 until his death. On Saturday, 850,000 of the approximately 2.3 million residents were called to vote. Bongo only won a first re-election in 2016 by a good 5,000 votes. He was accused of manipulation. Serious riots broke out as a result.

Just under a month ago, the Presidential Guard in Niger deposed the democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum. The military had previously taken power in the Sahel in Mali and Burkina Faso.

The government in Gabon cut off internet access over the weekend, imposed a curfew from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. and banned several French radio stations from broadcasting.

A government spokesman justified the blocking of the Internet by saying that “false information” and “calls for violence” were to be combated. The responsible authority accused the broadcasters France 24, RFI and TV5 Monde of “a lack of objectivity and balance in the reporting of the current general elections”. The election was also marked by the absence of international observers. Requests for accreditation from foreign journalists were systematically rejected.