They say the military leaders' resolve to wrest power from Bongo, whom the Gabonese Elections Center, or CEG, declared winner in the Aug. 26 disputed elections, could be their last resort to end the nearly 56-year rule of the Bongo family in the oil-producing nation of 2.4 million people.
Military leaders in Gabon announced early Wednesday that they had ousted the 64-year-old and placed him under house arrest. Bongo confirmed the restrictions on his movement in a video where he called on the world to "make noise" in support of his apparent overthrow.
The military named Gen. Brice Oligui Nguema, commander-in-chief of the Gabonese Republican Guard, as a transitional leader after the ouster. The military leaders, who are calling themselves the Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions, announced Thursday Nguema will be sworn in Monday.
David Otto Endeley, director of the Geneva-based Center for African Security and Strategic Studies, told VOA that reactions from the regional bloc, the Economic Community of Central African States, ECCAS, might go only as far as a condemnation.
ECCAS Thursday condemned the coup, saying in a statement it planned an "imminent" meeting of heads of state to determine how to respond. It did not give a date.
"I think there’s no general desire in a democratic era to see leaders who run in perpetuity in power … this is more or less a dynasty marked in some kind of democratic institution," Otto Endeley said. "And so the international community will be a lot more careful as compared to countries like Niger where it was clearly a democratically elected president that was overthrown."
"Gabon has been seen as some kind of a handover — from father-to-son and son-to-father," Otto Endeley added.
He said a rule introduced in July — less than two months before Gabon's national elections — put the main opposition candidates — the Alternance 2023 alliance — at a "disadvantage" because they had not fielded candidates for parliamentary elections.
Otto Endeley also noted that Saturday's internet shutdown and imposition of a curfew in the elections' aftermath gave troubling signals.
"I think the signs were clearly written on the wall," he said. "We’re experiencing another coup pandemic. It’s a replica of what we’ve experienced lately in Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, Guinea and Sudan, but this time the dynamics are quite different."
On Thursday, the European Union's foreign policy chief Josep Borrel in comparing the military take-over in Gabon to that of Niger, said the latter's military "intervened" after Bongo won an unfair election.
"Naturally, military coups are not the solution, but we must not forget that in Gabon there had been elections full of irregularities," he said, noting that a rigged vote could amount to a civilian "institutional coup."
Otto Endeley believes that the Bongo dynasty, which has ruled the Central African state since 1967, coupled with the country’s lack of constitutional term limits, validates theories that Ali Bongo "had this coming for him."
"The military has been used for regime protection in most of the dynasties that have stayed for long. And now, the military is seeing itself as the only hope that can liberate the country from this dynasty rule," he said. "It seems the beast that the government has been using to attack the population is now eating its owners."
Maja Bovcon, senior Africa analyst at the London-based risk intelligence company Verisk Maplecroft, agrees, that there's no interest on the global community's part in seeking a return of Ali Bongo Ondimba to power.
"The international community and regional bodies are unlikely to go beyond condemning the coup and demanding the restoration of the civilian rule," she said.
"They are aware of the lack of public support for President Ali Bongo and the contentious conditions in which the latest elections were conducted."
Bovcon said she also doesn't see the military transferring power to Albert Ondo Ossa, who led the coalition of some opposition candidates in the elections. Ondo Ossa claimed victory in the vote although the CEG said he polled 30.77% of votes.
The Alternance 2023 coalition on Thursday called on the junta to acknowledge Ondo Ossa won the disputed poll.
"Based on other coups in the region, we can likely expect a prolonged transition period," Bovcon said, adding that "the putsch in Gabon, along with the spate of coups across the region, will put long-serving autocratic leaders on alert."
Cameroonian President Paul Biya and his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame have reportedly reshuffled their military's leadership after the apparent coup. It is not clear if the changes are in connection to the developments in Gabon.
Andrea Ngombet, founder of Paris-based Sassoufit Collective, an organization that promotes democracy, human rights and anti-corruption efforts across the continent, told VOA that, at the heart of the military takeover in Gabon is to quash the "dynastic reign of the Bongo family."
He said the apparent coup is a message to multinational companies and international partners who operate in the country that they "cannot continue to do business as usual," adding that if global condemnation against the military takeover isn’t measured, there’s a risk of driving the Gabonese people to foreign powers like Russia and China.
"If we condemn the coup — just because it is a coup — we will push (Gabonese) away to the likes of the Wagner mercenary group, Russia and China," he said.
"Because the fundamental needs of the Gabonese is how to restore democracy … sovereignty and (to) have social and economic justice (before) the multinationals exploiting the resource of the country."
Russia and China have said they are monitoring the developments in the Central African nation, as have other global powers like the United States, the European Union, and the African Union, who have condemned the coup.
Spokeswoman for the Kremlin, Maria Zahkharova, said she "hopes for speedy stabilization" while spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry, Wang Webin called on "relevant parties in Gabon to restore normal order as soon as possible."
VOA’s Zoe Leoudaki and Haydé Adams contributed to this story.