China on Wednesday called for “all sides” in Gabon to guarantee the safety of President Ali Bongo Ondimba after a group of military officers said they were “putting an end to the current regime” in the West African nation.
“China is closely following the developing situation in Gabon,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said.
“We call on all sides in Gabon to proceed from the basic interests of the country and the people, resolve differences through dialogue, (and) restore normal order as soon as possible,” he added, urging parties to “guarantee the personal safety of President Bongo, and uphold national peace and stability”.
Bongo has been in power for 14 years in the oil-rich West African state. He was first elected in 2009 following the death of his father, Omar Bongo Ondimba, who had ruled the country for 41 years.
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He visited Beijing in April and met with President Xi Jinping, who declared him “an old friend” of the Chinese people.
Xi also hailed Bongo’s “significant achievements” in development.
Bongo, in turn, thanked China for its “valuable assistance in promoting Gabon’s economic diversification and industrialisation”, a readout from state news agency Xinhua said.
Beijing has long sought to bolster its presence in Africa, with then-foreign minister Qin Gang visiting the continent last year on his first overseas visit in the job.