Gabon's military declares coup in order to 'restore democracy'

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However, soldiers said they had been disappointed by the message, calling it "a pitiful sight" and a "relentless attempt to cling onto power".

That is why the Patriotic Movement of Young Defense and Security Forces decided "to take its responsibility to finally defeat all these maneuvers that are under way to confiscate power", he said, an apparent referral to senior Gabonese officials who are running state institutions in Bongo's absence.

"The secretary-general does take note that calm appears to have returned to Libreville and calls on all actors to follow the constitution", Dujarric said.

Satchu said the coup attempt reflects a broader trend of discontent in Africa over long-serving leaders who have failed to heed the needs of their people. After government forces stormed the station, one of the soldiers took the clothes of an employee to make his escape.

The developments came as Bongo is recovering at a private residence in the Moroccan capital Rabat.

Bongo, 59, was hospitalised in Saudi Arabia in October after suffering a stroke.

In a brief New Year's speech recorded in Morocco, he acknowledged his health problems without giving details, and called the country "indivisible". He had sought to reassure the nation he was fit during a New Year's Eve speech televised from Morocco, where he is recuperating, The New York Times reported. In the message he gave to the nation on December 31, Bongo said that his health was improving. He slurred some of his words and did not move his right arm, but otherwise appeared in decent health. "Critics have accused the family of profiting from the country's natural resources while not investing enough in basic services for the population of more than two million people", AP notes. Bongo became president in October 2009 after the death of his father who'd ruled Gabon from 1967 until 2009. His narrow reelection in 2016 was marred by violence and accusations of fraud.

It was revealed last month that he had suffered a stroke. His constitutional powers were recently transferred to the Prime Minister and Deputy President.

The Bongo family has governed the equatorial African nation for five decades.

President Donald Trump, in his letter of notification Friday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about the US deployment to Gabon, said more troops could be dispatched to Gabon, Congo or the separate Republic of Congo as needed.