Gabon’s military leaders have declared an end to deposed President Ali Bongo‘s house arrest.
By this, the ousted President is now “free to move about”.
In a communique read on state television, the military spokesperson Col Ulrich Manfoumbi said the decision to free Mr. Bongo was due to “his state of health”.
“He may, if he wishes, travel abroad for medical check-ups,” he added.
Ali Bongo has been under house arrest since the military staged a coup on 30 August, to take control of the oil-rich country.
The decision to free him follows pressure from the Central African regional bloc Eccas and Gabon’s neighbours.
They have demanded respect the physical integrity of the ousted head of state.
In 2018, Mr Bongo suffered a stroke. His health was a major source of concern for many in the build-up to the 2023 presidential election.
The new leader General Brice Oligui Nguema’s has promised reforms including a new constitution to be adopted by referendum, new electoral and penal codes.
He also said political exiles would be welcomed back and political prisoners freed as part of those reforms.
“When the people are crushed by their leaders … it’s the army that gives them back their dignity,” he said.
“People of Gabon, today the times of happiness that our ancestors dreamt of are finally coming.”
Nguema also stressed that his administration would organise free and fair elections, but didn’t give any timeline.
“After this transition … we intend to return power to civilians by organising new elections that will be free, transparent, credible and peaceful,” he said.
Last week’s coup ended the Bongo dynasty which lasted for 56 years, first starting with Ali Bongo’s father, Omar in 1967.
“With the new government, made up of experienced people, we’re going to give everyone a chance to hope,” Nguema said.
Nguema is the the son of a military officer, who trained at Morocco’s Royal Military Academy.
He used to serve Ali Bongo’s father, the late President Omar Bongo. Nguema shortly after Bongo came to power in 2009 was sent abroad on diplomatic missions officially.
He returned to Gabon to head the secret service before his 2019 appointment as head of the republican guard, a unit in charge of the president’s security.