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Gabon says coup attempt foiled, plotters arrested | Gabon News

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Gabon has foiled an attempted military coup and arrested several plotters just hours after they took over state radio in a bid to end 50 years of rule by President Ali Bongo‘s family.

The chief military rebel who led the thwarted coup bid on Monday was arrested and two of his commandos were killed, according to a statement by Gabon’s presidency. 

“The situation is under control,” the statement said.

The remaining two rebels involved in the coup attempt were also taken into custody. 

Government spokesman Guy-Bertrand Mapangou told Reuters news agency that authorities have regained control of the state broadcasting offices and a major thoroughfare in the capital Libreville, which were the only areas taken over by the officers.

President Bongo has been away from the country since October after suffering a stroke while attending a summit in Saudi Arabia.

Earlier on Monday, a soldier who identified himself as Liuetenant Obiang Ondo Kelly, commander of the Republican Guard, read out a statement saying the military had seized control of the government of the West African country.

Flanked by two other soldiers holding weapons, the soldier said they were taking over to “restore democracy”.






WATCH: Gabon soldiers seize national radio station in coup attempt (5:39)

He said Bongo’s New Year’s Eve address from Morocco “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.

Mapangou, the government spokesman, told France 24 that the situation was under control after the arrests.

“The government is in place. The institutions are in place,” he said.

‘Panic and fear’

A curfew has been imposed over Libreville, and the internet has been cut.

The city on the Atlantic Ocean coast is being patrolled by military tanks and armed vehicles.

Antoine Lawson, a Gabonese journalist, told Al Jazeera the coup attempt had caused panic in Libreville.

“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 from Libreville.

The African Union affirmed its support for the Bongo government.

“The African Union strongly condemns the coup attempt this morning in Gabon,” the head of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, said on Twitter.

“I reaffirm the AU’s rejection of all anti-constitutional change.”

Separately, France, which ruled Gabon from 1885 until independence in 1960, said it condemned “any extra-constitutional attempt at regime change”.

“The stability of Gabon can only be assured by strict adherence to the provisions of the constitution,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll said in Paris.

France has a permanent force of 300 soldiers in Gabon. The United States also sent about 80 soldiers to Gabon last week in response to possible violence in Democratic Republic of Congo after a presidential election there.

The Bongo family has ruled the oil-producing country since 1967. Bongo has been president since succeeding his father, Omar, who died in 2009.

His re-election in 2016 was marred by claims of fraud and violent protest.

Gabon, a small country with a population of about two million people, is estimated to be the fourth-richest nation in Africa.

“For the moment we think the coup attempt failed, and that it was the work of a small number of enthusiastic but possibly naive officers,” Francois Conradie, head of research at NKC African Economics, told DPA news agency.

The government would now likely use the coup attempt to further impose restrictions on the opposition, he said.

“While Mr Bongo is unpopular, and there are reasons to think his removal would be justified, any incoming government would face the same fiscal pressures as his,” Conradie said.

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Ottawa transit commission hopes to prioritize COVID-19 vaccines for OC Transpo workers

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Ottawa’s transit commission is pushing local and provincial health officials to recognize the role OC Transpo operators have played in keeping the city running during the COVID-19 pandemic, hoping to bump train and bus drivers in the vaccination queue amid a recent surge in coronavirus infections affecting transit workers.

More than 100 OC Transpo staff across the entire organization have tested positive for the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, according to an update at Wednesday morning’s transit commission meeting.

Of those cases, 26 employees are currently recovering from the disease in self-isolation.

OC Transpo has seen a recent jump in COVID-19 cases, with Ottawa city council receiving reports of eight operators testing positive for the virus over a recent eight-day period.

Transit commissioner Sarah Wright-Gilbert attempted to find out how many of the total cases are traced to workplace transmission, but OC Transpo boss John Manconi said he’s been advised by medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches that he can’t share that information for privacy reasons.

Transit operators are listed in the second priority group of essential workers as part of Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine sequencing plans, but several commissioners speaking Wednesday wanted to get the city’s bus and train drivers bumped higher in the order.

Councillors Riley Brockington and Glen Gower both put forward motions looking to get front-line OC Transpo employees prioritization in vaccine sequencing, but others pointed out that the much-debated public health topic of who gets the vaccine and when is well beyond the scope of the transit commission.

“We are not in a position in transit commission to be decreeing, or making an edict, about what group of essential workers is more at risk than others and should be prioritized. That should be left up to public health experts,” Wright-Gilbert said.

Knoxdale-Merivale Coun. Keith Egli, who also chairs the Ottawa Board of Health, reflected on the board’s four-plus-hour meeting on Monday evening, during which vaccine sequencing and prioritizing essential workers dominated the conversation.

“Vaccine sequencing is obviously a very difficult maze to get through,” he said.

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COVID-19: Ottawa police announce end of 24-7 presence at Ontario-Quebec border

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Less than two days after the Ontario government’s latest COVID-19 restrictions came into effect, calling for non-essential traffic to be stopped at the province’s borders with Quebec and Manitoba, the Ottawa Police Service has announced it is stopping its 24-hour checkpoints.

According to a statement issued by the service Tuesday evening, the around-the-clock border checkpoints were set to end as of 8 p.m. on Tuesday in favour of rotating checkpoints across the city throughout the day until Ontario’s temporary regulations end.

“Since the onset of the border operations, the OPS has been working closely with Ottawa Public Health (OPH) along with local stakeholders and interprovincial stakeholders (the City of Ottawa, the City of Gatineau, the Ontario Provincial Police etc.) to assess any local public health, traffic and safety impacts. The assessment resulted in today’s operational changes,” the statement said.

“The operational changes announced today are designed to better ensure the health and safety of all, to minimize delays and/or hazards for travellers and to ensure essential workers can get to their places of employment on time.”

The statement also said the police service, while working to comply with the provincial order, was focused on education and enforcement actions that “support improved public health outcomes and respect the concerns of our most marginalized and racialized communities”

Officers said they will be conducting daily assessments on border crossings and that there could be further changes.

In a statement to Global News, a spokesperson for Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said that the border closures are ultimately subject to the discretion of local police enforcing the regulations.

“Local police services are best positioned to determine the operational deployments necessary to ensure the continued safety of their communities,” the spokesperson said, noting that the order’s regulations still apply to individuals entering the province.

The temporary order restricts Quebec residents from entering Ontario. If prompted, individuals must stop when directed by an enforcement officials and provide their reason for entering the province.

The main exemptions to the restrictions include if the person’s main home is in the province, if they work in Ontario, if they’re transporting goods, if they’re exercising Indigenous or treaty rights, if they need health care or if there’s a basis on compassionate grounds.

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COVID-19 vaccines in Ottawa: Nearly half of all residents in their 60s have at least one dose

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OTTAWA — Ottawa Public Health’s latest COVID-19 vaccination update shows that nearly half of all residents 60 to 69 years old have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, a figure that has all but doubled in the past week.

OPH’s COVID-19 vaccination dashboard shows 58,000 residents 60 to 69 have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, accounting for 49.3 per cent of that age group’s population in Ottawa. Last Wednesday, OPH reported 30,000 residents 60 to 69 had had at least one dose, which was 25.4 per cent.

As age demographics get younger, the population grows larger and the coverage by percentage may appear to grow more slowly, even if clinics are vaccinating greater numbers of people. For example, the latest figures show that 83 per cent of people aged 70 to 79 have had at least one dose. By raw population that’s 60,000 people, only slightly higher than half of all people in their 60s.

Vaccinations are open through the Ontario portal to anyone 60 and older and, this week, the AstraZeneca vaccine was approved for administration at pharmacies and primary care clinics to anyone in Ontario 40 and older.

OPH reported a new shipment this week of 25,740 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. To date, Ottawa has received 305,130 doses of COVID-19 vaccines from the provincial government.

The number of eligible residents (i.e. 16 and older) with at least one dose of a vaccine is now up to 28 per cent.

Tuesday was Ottawa’s second-busiest day for vaccinations overall, with the OPH reporting 9,729 shots administered. Last Friday saw 9,887 shots administered in a single day.

QUICK STATS

  • Ottawa residents with at least one dose: 248,668
  • Ottawa residents with two doses: 26,722
  • Percent of eligible population (residents 16 and older) with at least one dose: 28 per cent
  • Percent of eligible population (residents 16 and older) with two doses: 3 per cent
  • Percent of total population with at least one dose: 24 per cent
  • Percent of total population with two doses: 3 per cent

VACCINATION COVERAGE BY AGE FOR OTTAWA RESIDENTS WITH AT LEAST ONE DOSE

  • 10-19: 1.6 per cent (1,804 people)
  • 20-29: 8.3 per cent (13,452 people)
  • 30-39: 9.5 per cent (14,999 people)
  • 40-49: 12.9 per cent (17,350 people)
  • 50-59: 28.8 per cent (40,320 people)
  • 60-69: 49.3 per cent (58,627 people)
  • 70-79: 82.9 per cent (62,808 people)
  • 80-89: 87.5 per cent (29,358 people)
  • 90+: 89.2 per cent (7,893 people)
  • Unknown age: 2,057 people 

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