Ali Bongo Ondimba, makes a statement after his country’s military seized power on August 30.
From Libreville, capital of Gabon, comes a report that the military leaders who staged a coup in the country have freed ousted president Ali Bongo Ondimba and he is now allowed to travel abroad, a junta spokesperson said Wednesday.
Bongo has reportedly been held in 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.
State television 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. Questions swirled around his capacity 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.
He was announced winner in the polls, described by the junta as an “outrageously biased electoral process.”
Bongo’s father ruled Gabon for more than four decades before his death in 2009.
Junta leader Nguema, who voided the election, said Bongo’s regime had “confiscated power for several years, in flagrant violation of democratic rules.”
Nguema was a former bodyguard for Omar Bongo and is said to be his cousin.
Each of Bongo’s elections since 2009 have been blighted by allegations of electoral fraud. Some sparked violent anti-government protests.
Many citizens in his oil-rich but impoverished nation celebrated his ouster and endorsed the military takeover.
It’s not immediately clear if Bongo will leave Gabon following his release by the junta.
Earlier this week, Nguema met with mediators from Central African bloc ECCAS and a possible exit plan for Bongo to Morocco was reportedly discussed, according to French media.
If the ousted president leaves, he is likely to go to France where the Bongo family has a portfolio of luxury real estate. It also has homes in the United States, valued at millions of dollars. — CNN
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