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JUST IN: Gun Battle In Gabon As Soldiers Seize Power

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A dozen Gabonese soldiers appeared on television Wednesday announcing they were “putting an end to the current regime” and the cancellation of an election that, according to official results, President Ali Bongo Ondimba won.

During the announcement, AFP journalists heard gunfire ring out in the Gabonese capital, Libreville.

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While announcing the cancellation of the results one of the soldiers said “all the institutions of the republic” had been dissolved.

“We have decided to defend peace by putting an end to the current regime”, one of the soldiers said on TV channel Gabon 24, adding that he was speaking on behalf of the “Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions”.

READ ALSO: [JUST IN] COUP: African Union Suspends Niger, Demands Restoration Of Constitutional Order

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To this end, the general elections of 26 August 2023 and the truncated results are cancelled,” he added.

“All the institutions of the republic are dissolved: the government, the Senate, the National Assembly and the Constitutional Court,” he added, announcing the closure of the country’s borders “until further notice”.

Among the soldiers were members of the Republican Guard as well as soldiers of the regular army and police officers.

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The statement was also broadcast on Gabon 1 public television.

Gunfire in the capital –

AFP journalists heard gunfire in several districts of Libreville during the statement.

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The announcement came shortly after the national election authority said Bongo, who has been in power for 14 years, had won a third term in Saturday’s election with 64.27 percent of the vote.

READ ALSO: BREAKING: Niger Coup Leader, Tchiani Agrees To Dialogue With ECOWAS

Bongo’s main rival, Albert Ondo Ossa, won just 30.77 percent of the vote, according to the results.

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Ondo Ossa had denounced “fraud orchestrated by the Bongo camp”, claiming victory ahead of the closure of polls.

On Monday, Ondo Ossa’s campaign manager Mike Jocktane called on Bongo to hand over power “without bloodshed”, insisting a partial count had Ondo Ossa clearly ahead, without providing any proof.

Gabonese law forbids any publication of partial results pending the final result which only the Gabonese Elections Centre, the body that organises the polls, is legally allowed to publish.

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The official election results were broadcast at 03:30 (02:30 GMT) on state television without any prior announcement of the event.

Before polls closed on Saturday, Bongo’s government imposed a curfew and a nationwide internet shutdown to prevent the spread of “false news” and possible violence, according to Libreville.

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Army Put On Standby As UK Police Hand In Weapons

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The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence is offering soldiers to support armed police in London after dozens of police officers stood down from firearms duties, BBC reports.

More than 100 officers have turned in permits allowing them to carry weapons, a source told the BBC, in support of a fellow officer who has been charged with murder over the fatal shooting of a young Black man, Chris Kaba.

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The officer, named only as NX121, who appeared in court last week, has been charged over the death of Chris Kaba in September 2022.

Kaba died hours after he was struck by a single gunshot fired into the vehicle he was driving in the Streatham area of South London.

READ ALSO: Man Charged With Beating His Three Children To Death

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It later emerged that the Audi Mr Kaba was driving, which did not belong to him, had been linked by police to a gun incident the day before.

His death prompted a number of protests and renewed allegations of racism within the force.

The Ministry of Defence said it received a request, known as Military Aid to the Civil Authorities, from the Home Office to “provide routine counter-terrorism contingency support to the Metropolitan Police, should it be needed”.

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A MACA is offered to the police or the NHS in emergency situations. The military helped medical staff in the Covid pandemic and covered for striking border staff and paramedics last year.

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The Met said it was a “contingency option” that would only be used “in specific circumstances and where an appropriate policing response was not available”.

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Military staff would not be used “in a routine policing capacity”, it added.

Chris Kaba

On Saturday, the Met said its own officers still make up the vast majority of armed police in the capital but they were being supported by a limited number of firearms officers from neighbouring forces.

Announcing the review, Home Secretary Suella Braverman said the public “depend on our brave firearms officers to protect us”.

“In the interest of public safety they have to make split-second decisions under extraordinary pressures.”

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She said that officers have her “full backing”.

“I will do everything in my power to support them,” she added.

READ ALSO: JUST IN: Russia Adds ICC President, Hofmanski, To Wanted List

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In his letter to the home secretary, the Met Police commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, said that a system where officers are investigated for “safely pursuing suspects” should not have been allowed to develop.

Sir Mark said he would “make no comment” on any ongoing legal matters, but “the issues raised in this letter go back further”.

He said firearms officers are concerned that they will face years of legal proceedings, “even if they stick to the tactics and training they have been given”.

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“Officers need sufficient legal protection to enable them to do their job and keep the public safe, and the confidence that it will be applied consistently and without fear or favour,” he wrote.

But in instances where officers act improperly, Sir Mark said the system “needs to move swiftly” rather than “tying itself in knots pursuing good officers through multiple legal processes”.

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Man Charged With Beating His Three Children To Death

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Police in Thailand have charged a man with beating to death his two-year-old daughter and his two infant sons, BBC reports.

The police suspect Songsak Songsaeng also killed two other infant sons from a previous marriage.

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The charges follow the discovery last week of the body of a two-year-old girl buried beneath a kitchen floor.

Police say Songsak claims to have a history of mental illness, and that he killed his children because he couldn’t tolerate the sound of their crying.

READ ALSO: Currency In Circulation Hit N2.7tn In H2 —Report

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His wife has also been charged over the death of their two-year-old daughter. And his ex-wife has been charged over the deaths of the two boys. All three have been arrested. Songsak has been married four times.

Police were first alerted to a possible case of domestic violence at the Bang Khen district in Bangkok earlier this month.

Songsak’s neighbours reported that his two daughters, aged 12 and four, were being physically abused. Police rescued the two daughters while they were home without their parents.

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The 12-year-old told police that their parents had beaten her two-year-old sister, which led to her death. She also helped police trace the body to where it was buried under a kitchen floor in north-west Thailand last week.

Thai police have also charged Songsak with the killing of two other sons he had with his third wife after his DNA matched with that of two infants, whose bodies were unearthed 10 years ago.

His third wife had said he killed their four infant sons and gave police locations where two were buried.

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Police believe the two others may have been buried under an area where a petrol station now stands.

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JUST IN: Russia Adds ICC President, Hofmanski, To Wanted List

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The Russian Government, on Monday, said it had placed the President of the International Criminal Court, which is seeking the arrest of President Vladimir Putin, on its wanted list.

“Hofmanski Piotr Jozef, Polish. Wanted under an article of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation,” Russian news agencies reported, citing the Interior Ministry.

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Nigeria fastest growing cricket nation, says ICC.

READ ALSO: Reps Set To Enrol 14 Million Out-of-school Children

Details later…

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