“Calm, no bloodshed, Internet restored”: Catholic Priest on Situation in Gabon after Coup

Screenshot of military officers in Gabon announcing that they had seized power. Credit: Gabon National Television

Days after the military coup in Gabon that ousted President Ali Bongo from power, a Catholic Priest has shared with ACI Africa the situation in the Central African nation, including relative calm and restoration of the Internet.

On Wednesday, August 30, Military officers in Gabon announced that they had seized power shortly after President Bongo was declared winner of the August 26 presidential poll, Reuters reported. Mr. Bongo has been placed under house arrest with General Brice Oligui Nguema appointed leader of the transition.

The military leadership also announced that the results of the Presidential election had been canceled, borders closed, and state institutions dissolved.

In a Thursday, August 31 interview with ACI Africa, the Coordinator of the Episcopal Commission for Social Communication and Culture at the Episcopal Conference of Gabon (CEG) said, “There were explosions of joy on the streets of Gabon after the military’s announcement. The internet was also restored.”

“There is calm in the country and I pray that people remain calm,” Fr. Serge-Patrick Mabickassa further said, adding, “We must trust the transitional council for the restoration of institutions set up by the army, which we welcome because there was no bloodshed.”


The Gabonese Catholic Priest explained, “We thank God for this because in 2009 and 2016 following post-election violence, several families lost their loved ones. There are families who to date have not had a funeral because the bodies of their loved ones were never found. But the fact that this year the army took control of the situation avoided violence and bloodshed.” 

On August 31, Reuters reported that African leaders were working on a response to officers in Gabon. 

In a video recording that emerged later on August 30, Mr. Bongo who is seen speaking from his residence where he had been detained is seen appealing for help from foreign allies, saying he is sending a message “to all friends that we have all over the world, to tell them to make noise, to make noise, for the people hear have arrested me.”

The military takeover in Gabon is the eighth in West and Central Africa since 2020. Military officers have also seized power in Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Chad, and Niger.

In the August 31 interview with ACI Africa, Fr. Mabickassa underscored the need for the relevant parties in the conflict in Gabon to “enter into the dynamics of dialogue and concertation.”

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“The Catholic Church is open as a mother educator so that if solicited she can respond, give her contribution for the dignity of the human person,” the Coordinator of the Episcopal Commission for Social Communication and Culture at CEG said. 

The Gabonese Catholic Priest added, “We have to remain united in prayer. We have to be men and women in prayer confiding the situation to the Lord.”

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.