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Gabon coup leaders name new leader

Gen Nguema was carried triumphally through the streets of the capital, Libreville, by his troops

Army officers who seized power in a coup in Gabon on Wednesday have named Gen Brice Oligui Nguema as the country’s transitional leader.

Gen Nguema was earlier carried triumphally through the streets of the capital Libreville by his troops.

The deposed President, Ali Bongo, has appeared in a video at his home, calling on his “friends all over the world” to “make noise” on his behalf.

The former French colony is one of Africa’s major oil producers.

In another development, the African Union has suspended Gabon’s participation in all of its activities following Wednesday’s military takeover, which it strongly condemned.

Mr Bongo’s overthrow ended his family’s 55-year hold on power in the Central African state.

Army officers appeared on TV in the early hours of Wednesday to say they had taken power.

They said they had annulled the results of Saturday’s election in which Mr Bongo was declared the winner but which the opposition said was fraudulent.

The officers also said they had arrested one of Mr Bongo’s sons for treason.

Within hours, generals met to discuss who would lead the transition and agreed by a unanimous vote to appoint Gen Nguema, former head of the presidential guard.

Gen Nguema told France’s Le Monde newspaper that Gabonese people had had enough of Ali Bongo’s rule, and that he should not have run for a third term.

“Everyone talks about this but no one takes responsibility,” he said. “So the army decided to turn the page.”

Crowds in Libreville and elsewhere celebrated the army’s declaration.

But the coup was condemned by the UN, the African Union and France, which had close ties to the Bongo family.

The US state department urged Gabon’s military to “preserve civilian rule” and urged “those responsible to release and ensure the safety of members of government”. The UK condemned the “unconstitutional military takeover” of power.

There has long been simmering resentment of the Bongo family – it ruled Gabon for almost 56 years – and there has been public discontent over broader issues such as the cost of living.

“At first I was scared, but then I felt joy,” a resident of Libreville, who requested anonymity, told the BBC. “I was scared because of the realisation that I am living through a coup, but the joy is because we’ve been waiting for so long for this regime to be overthrown.”

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