Gabon Justice Minister Resigns Over Bongo Re-election As French PM Suggests Vote Recount
Gabon’s justice minister has resigned in protest over the re-election of President Ali Bongo, which has prompted accusations of fraud and streets riots that have killed at least six people.
Bongo has claimed victory by a slender margin of around 6,000 votes, but the opposition leader has called a general strike in response to what he says is a fraudulent re-election.
Seraphin Moundoung resigned on Monday over the government’s failure to organise a recount.
Their protests undermined Bongo’s attempts to project stability in the oil-rich African country following the election’s violent aftermath, with Manuel Valls, the French prime minister, proposing a recount.
“Having noticed that the government was not responding to concerns about the need for peace and for the consolidation of democracy, I decided to … step down from my functions as a member of government,” Moundounga told Radio France Internationale.
France had joined the EU and the US in calling for the results to be published according to each polling station but, until now, had stopped short of demanding a recount.
Bongo’s defeated rival Jean Ping, a veteran diplomat, called for the general strike to force “the tyrant” out.
“We cannot accept that our people will be killed like animals without reacting,” Ping wrote on Facebook.
“I propose to cease all activity and begin a general strike. We must use all means of resistance to topple this tyrant and believe me, he is on the verge of falling.”
Ping’s appeal seems to have gone largely unheeded in the capital, Libreville, where banks and shops have reopened after being shut for days due to post-election violence, and taxis have returned to the streets.
The AFP news agency says post-election chaos has claimed at least six lives in Gabon, ruled by the Bongo family since 1967.
Gabonese authorities, however, say the death toll stands at three besides 105 wounded, and that some deaths were previously attributed incorrectly to the clashes.
Around 800 people have been arrested in recent days in Libreville accused of looting.
Meanwhile, a high-level African Union delegation, including heads of state, is ready to be dispatched to Libreville to help calm the situation, AU chairman and Chad President Idriss Deby said.
Meanwhile, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has told a French radio station that a recount should be held of the votes in Gabon’s disputed presidential election.