Plotters arrested after failed coup in Gabon

Gabon President Ali Bongo. /FILE

The coup attempt comes less than a week after U.S. President Donald Trump deployed 80 U.S. soldiers to Gabon to be on standby in case election violence threatens U.S. citizens in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Image copyright AFP Image caption The government says it is in control after the failed coup How did the coup attempt unfold? "I reaffirm the AU's rejection of all anti-constitutional change".

Five army officers who took over state radio in the coup attempt have been arrested, government spokesman Guy-Betrand Mapangou, told Radio France International.

The soldiers took control of Gabon's national radio in the early hours of Monday and announced a "National Restoration Council".

"The situation is under control", the presidency statement said, adding that hostages had been freed from the radio station.

A group of five soldiers sought to take power while Ali Bongo, the country's ailing president, recovers overseas following a stroke while he was in Saudi Arabia in October.

In the message he gave to the nation on December 31, he expressed gladness that the condition of his health was improving.

Gunshots were reported early Monday in Gabon's capital of Libreville.

The military in Gabon have launched a coup against the government of ailing president Ali Bongo.

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The ministry also advised French nationals in the capital Libreville - 8 900 of whom have registered with the French consulate - to "avoid moving around" in the capital for time being.

Tanks and armed vehicles can be seen on the streets of the capital Libreville.

About 300 people gathered around the state broadcaster after the news broke, although they were soon dispersed by the police who fired tear gas.

The Gabon Military has overthrown the government after claiming that President Ali bongo and his family had ruled the country for the past 50 years.

The economy was long buoyed by oil revenues, much of which was funneled to the country's moneyed elite while most of the 2-million population live in deep poverty.

On Friday, the White House said it had ordered about 80 combat-equipped military personnel to Gabon amid concerns that elections in Congo would result in violent clashes and possibly pose a threat to USA diplomatic assets.

France's closest ally in Africa, Bongo was a key figure in a murky network of trade and political ties between France and its former African colonies known as "FrancAfrique".

Stroke-hit Bongo is at present not in the country. He took over power after his father, Omar, who seized control in 1967.

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