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Gabon: Crisis after failed coup

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Crises and curfew after failed coup

Gabon under dynastic rule means more crises. 

A curfew has been imposed over the beachside capital and the internet has been cut, according to residents. Military tanks and soldiers were patrolling the streets, said Antoine Lawson, a Gabonese journalist.

Speaking to Al Jazeera from Libreville, Lawson said the coup attempt had caused widespread panic.

“The people are afraid. When the young soldiers asked everyone to come to the streets in support of the coup, nobody did, because they were in panic,” he said.

Mehari Taddele Maru, a Kenya-based security consultant, told Al Jazeera the coup attempt showed growing frustration with the Bongo family, which has ruled the oil-producing country since 1967.

The tiny Bongo dynasty recently foiled an attempted military coup, killing two suspected plotters and capturing seven others just hours after they took over state radio in a bid to end 50 years of rule by President Ali Bongo’s family.

Guy-Bertrand Mapangou, spokesman for the government, announced the deaths and arrests on Monday after soldiers briefly seized the radio station in the capital, Libreville, and broadcast a message saying Bongo was no longer fit for office.

The 59-year-old president, who suffered a stroke in Saudi Arabia in October, has been in Morocco for medical treatment since November.

Bongo has been president since succeeding his father, Omar, who died in 2009.

“As long as Gabon remains under dynastic rule, there will be more crises,” said Mehari.

Critics have accused the Bongo family of profiting from the country’s natural resources while not investing enough in basic services for the population of more than two million.

About one-third of the population lives below the poverty line, according to the World Bank.