An attempted military coup in the oil rich central African country of Gabon failed on Monday and the government announced that four out of five plotters had been arrested.

The plotters were arrested just hours after they took over state radio in a bid to end 50 years of rule by President Ali Bongo’s family.

They had said in a radio broadcast they were seizing power to restore democracy.

But Reuters quoted government spokesman Guy-Bertrand Mapangou as saying that four of the five officers who had taken over the state radio in the capital Libreville had been arrested while a fifth officer fled and was being pursued.

According to Reuters, in a radio message at 4:30 a.m. (0330 GMT), Lieutenant Kelly Ondo Obiang, who described himself as an officer in the Republican Guard, said Bongo’s New Year’s Eve address from Morocco, where he is recovering from a stroke, “reinforced doubts about the president’s ability to continue to carry out of the responsibilities of his office”.

“In one of his first television appearances since he suffered the stroke in Saudi Arabia in October, Bongo, 59, slurred his speech and he appeared unable to move his right arm. It is unclear if he is able to walk. He has been in Morocco since November to continue treatment,” Reuters reported

Outside the radio station, loyalist soldiers fired teargas to disperse about 300 people who had come out into the streets to support the coup attempt, a Reuters witness said. Helicopters circled overhead.

Most of the beachside capital was quiet, however, and a government spokesman said the situation was under control after the arrests. “The government is in place. The institutions are in place,” Mapangou told France 24.


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