Soldiers in Gabon have appeared on state television saying they have launched a coup in the west African country.

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

Residents of the capital, Libreville, report that military tanks and armed vehicles are patrolling the streets.

President Ali Bongo, in power since 2009, has been out of the country since October amid reports that he had a stroke. He recently addressed the country in a New Year’s message from a hospital bed in Morocco.