Wednesday, 20 September, 2017

Gabon opposition says two dead following election result protests

Melinda Barton | 01 September, 2016, 13:40

Gabon's opposition leader Jean Ping said on Thursday two people were killed and many injured when the presidential guard and police attacked his party's headquarters overnight in the wake of an election held at the weekend.

The protests and the fire prompted security forces to storm the opposition leader Jean Ping's headquarters, according to the BBC. Eyewitnesses said they saw flames rising from the National Assembly, and many residents said they had anticipated the clashes and stayed home.

The official results, set to be formally announced, show Bongo winning 49.8 percent of the votes, with Ping at 48.2 percent.

Gabon's electoral commission has begun to review the votes for Saturday's presidential election before announcing provisional results, a day later than expected.

"They attacked around 01:00. There are 19 people injured, some of them very seriously", said Ping, who was not at the party headquarters himself.

Thousands of angry protesters took to the streets of Libreville, accusing the government of stealing the election after Bongo won a second term by a thin margin over rival Jean Ping.

Gunfire crackled across the city and plumes of smoke billowed from the torched parliament building as anti-government protesters clashed with heavily armed security forces, injuring at least six people. It is the republican guard.

Ping, a life-long political insider who has served as foreign minister and African Union Commission chairman, was a close ally of Omar Bongo and fathered two children with the late president's daughter, Pascaline.

European Union observers criticized a "lack of transparency", and the EU called for the electoral commission to publish the results from all polling stations.

Mr Ping said he was not calling on his supporters to protest because they were already under so much pressure from authorities.

France and the United States also called for individual polling station results to be published.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged political leaders and their supporters "to refrain from further acts that could undermine the peace and stability of the country". He also called on security forces to exercise restraint.