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Gabon Coup Attempt Failed, Government Says

Conspiracy theories were circulating in Gabon throughout the day, including one that the coup attempt was staged by Mr. Bongo as a way to send a message that he would quash any effort to seize power.

During his speech on New Year’s Eve, Mr. Bongo said, “It is true that I have been through a difficult period, as sometimes happens in life. Today, as you can see, I am better and I am preparing to meet you again soon.” The video failed to put the matter to rest, with observers noting that Mr. Bongo slurred some words and did not move his right arm.

President Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon in 2017. He is currently recovering from a stroke in Morocco.CreditGabriel Bouys/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Mr. Bongo’s time as president has been accompanied by criticism that he has carried out fraudulent elections, sometimes to violent ends, in hopes of hanging on to power. His father, Omar, was president for 42 years before dying in office in 2009.

When Mr. Bongo was first elected to replace his father, logistical issues during an unanticipated election led to accusations of irregularities. Mr. Bongo edged out his opponent, Jean Ping, but the 2016 contest was marred by accusations that the vote counting was tainted by fraud.

Protesters at the time set fire to the Parliament building, and the presidential guard was accused of attacking Mr. Ping’s headquarters, killing two people and wounding several others.

Yet Mr. Bongo’s actions to protect his nation’s relatively untouched forests, savannas and coastlines, all teeming with wildlife, earned praise from conservationists.

Mr. Bongo, who served as foreign and defense minister before becoming president, is almost entirely French educated, and is also a jazz musician who years ago released a funk album.

With tensions running high after recent presidential elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo, President Trump said on Friday that he had sent about 80 troops to Gabon in case the election dispute made it necessary to evacuate Americans.

Source: NYT > World

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