“Three people were killed and up to 1,100 have been arrested in Gabon”, the government said, in a second day of rioting over the announcement of President Ali Bongo’s re-election and his main rival’s accusation that the vote was rigged.
Opposition challenger Jean Ping accused the elections commission of inflating Bongo’s score to hand him a slim victory and extend his family’s nearly half-century rule in the oil-producing Central African country for another seven years.
Ping called on Bongo to step down.
Violent protests raged in at least nine neighbourhoods of the capital Libreville, two witnesses and a police source said on Thursday, a day after demonstrators set fire to the parliament building following the results announcement.
“We want everyone to see, to tour the city, to witness the level of devastation, destruction, violence organised by certain politicians who do not want to recognise their defeat,” Interior Minister Pacome Moubelet Boubeya said.
He told a news conference that several television stations, supermarkets, shops, and private homes had been looted in Libreville and the city hall was targeted by arsonists. “Violence erupted in several other cities and provinces as well”, he said.
Moubelet Boubeya said protesters had used grenades and police had seized AK-47 assault rifles, an accusation an opposition spokesman rejected.
Gabon’s sovereign dollar bonds fell across the curve with the 2024 and 2025 issue hitting a seven-week low on the back of the violence.
Ping told reporters in an interview that two people were killed and others wounded when the presidential guard assaulted his party headquarters overnight.
He called for international assistance to protect the population against what he described as “a rogue state”.
“The only solution is that Bongo recognises defeat, because he was beaten,” Ping later told Newsmen. He said that contesting the results through Gabon’s constitutional court, the official channel for complaints, was pointless.
“The constitutional court, like Gabon’s electoral commission, is a tool of the governing authority. They do what they are told to do,” he said.
Bongo’s office accused the Ping camp of planning “coordinated attacks on symbols of the state”, adding that security forces had in response encircled Ping’s headquarters and clashed with his supporters, resulting in one death.