Hundreds of people have celebrated in the centre of Gabon’s capital, Libreville, after a group of senior military officers said they had seized power.
The mutinous soldiers also put the president under house arrest on Wednesday, hours after he was declared the winner of an election that would have extended his family’s 55-year rule in the oil-rich Central African nation.
International observers, however, criticised the vote, in which Bongo had sought his third term.
Within minutes of the announcement of the election result, gunfire was heard in the centre of Libreville. Later, a dozen uniformed soldiers appeared on state television and announced that they had seized power.
Soon after, crowds poured into the streets. Shopkeeper Viviane Mbou offered the soldiers juice, which they declined.
“Long live our army,” said Jordy Dikaba, a young man walking with his friends on a street lined with police.
Later, Bongo pleaded for support, appearing in a video showing him sitting in a chair with a bookshelf behind him. He said he was in his residence and his wife and son were in different places.