EU rejects seizure of power by force in Gabon

TOLEDO, Spain (Reuters) - The EU rejects the seizure of power by force in Gabon and called for restraint from all parties, the bloc's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a statement on Thursday.

A military junta on Wednesday said it had seized power and placed President Ali Bongo under house arrest while cancelling election results that had handed Bongo a third term. It is the eighth military coup in West and Central Africa since 2020.

"The challenges facing Gabon must be resolved in accordance with the principles of the rule of law, constitutional order and democracy," the EU's Borrell said. "The country's peace and prosperity, as well as regional stability, depend on it."

He added that the EU shared the "serious concerns" about the way in which the presidential election that preceded the coup was organised and conducted.

Earlier on Thursday, Borrell told reporters during a meeting of the bloc's foreign ministers in Spain that the Gabonese election had been "plagued by irregularities".

"There are military coups and institutional coups, where you don't need to take up arms, but if I rig an election to seize power, that is also an irregular way to do it," he added.

(Reporting by David Latona and Andrew Gray; Writing by Charlotte Van Campenhout; Editing by Jon Boyle and Hugh Lawson)