Military officers attempted power seizure in Gabon, declaring that they launched the botched coup “to restore democracy”.

The soldiers took control of the national radio station at 04:30 local time to read a short statement announcing a “National Restoration Council”.

Tanks and armed vehicles have been seen on the streets of the capital Libreville.

Ali Bongo, the ailing leader who took over from his father , has been out of the country for more than two months.

The Bongo dynasty has ruled the oil-rich state for 50 years.

Ali Bongo succeeded his father Omar Bongo as president in 2009. He narrowly won re-election in 2016 in a poll marred by violence and accusations of fraud.

He reportedly suffered from stroke last year but sought to put an end to the rumours about his health with a televised New Year message in which he said he was feeling fine.

But soldiers said they were disappointed at the “a pitiful sight” and a “relentless attempt to cling onto power.”

“It reinforced doubts about his ability to assume the responsibilities of his role as President of the Republic”, said Lt Kelly Ondo Obiang, the leader of the so-called Patriotic Movement of the Defence and Security Forces of Gabon.

He specifically appealed to young people to “take charge of their destiny”.

However, within a few hours, government spokesman Guy-Bertrand Mapangou told journalists that “Calm has returned, the situation is under control.”

He also revealed that of the five who entered the radio station, “four have been arrested and one is on the run,” according to Mapangou.

Security forces have also been deployed in the capital and will remain there over the coming days in order to maintain order, he said.

The elite Republican Guard was deployed around the building and armoured vehicles blocked access to the area.