There is panic and apprehension in Gabon, following the military take over.

Soldiers in Gabon have appeared on state television saying they have launched a coup against the government of ailing president Ali Bongo.

Early on Monday, one soldier flanked by two others holding guns read out a statement saying the military had seized control of the government “to restore democracy” to the country.

In a message on state radio, military officers declared their dissatisfaction with Bongo, who is recovering from a stroke in Morocco.

A New Year’s Eve address by Bongo “reinforced doubts about the president’s ability to continue to carry out of the responsibilities of his office”, said LieutKelly Ondo Obiang, the leader of the self-declared Patriotic Movement of the Defence and Security Forces of Gabon.

The radio message was broadcast at about 4.30am local time (0530 GMT), and the TV message shortly afterwards. A source close to the government said there were gunshots around the national television station, but that the plotters appeared to be a small group of soldiers.

A spokesman for the presidency told Reuters he would make a statement shortly.