Military leaders in the African country of Gabon have said that they have seized power following the 30 August announcement that long-serving President Ali Bongo had won the country’s election

Gabon is a member of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec+) and produces around 200,000 barrels of oil per day, representing around 0.2% of global supply. 

Gabon, a former French colony, retains economic and diplomatic ties with France. This is the eighth coup in a former French colony in Africa in the past three years. 

Bongo is now under house arrest and has called on supporters to “make noise”. Bongo’s family has been accused by critics of profiting from the state’s wealth at the expense of citizens. Last year, five siblings of the President were charged in connection with a $93m (CFA Fr55.83bn) fraud case. Bongo’s family has ruled the country for 50 years. 

This is the second attempted coup of Bongo’s reign after a group of soldiers seized the state-owned radio station in 2019. 

The EU’s Chief Diplomat, Josep Borrel, told reporters during a speech that the coup is likely to lead to greater instability. “The whole area, starting with Central African Republic, then Mali, then Burkina Faso, now Niger, maybe Gabon. It is in a very difficult situation,” he said. 

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Production cuts from the Opec+ group early this year have resulted in a sensitivity to further losses of barrels from international markets. Brent crude was up 0.4% at $85.82 a barrel on Wednesday. 

French oil giant TotalEnergies, which has 350 employees in the country, said that its main priority is to “ensure the safety of its employees and operations”. TotalEnergies is also Gabon’s main petrol distributor with 45 petrol stations in the country. 

The election, which was held on Saturday, took place without the presence of foreign media outlets, which were denied entry. Gabon’s electoral commission said that Bongo secured 64.27% of the vote. Following the announcement, the government imposed a curfew and blocked internet access for citizens on Saturday evening.