On Wednesday, incumbent President of Gabon, Ali Bongo was announced as the winner of the elections held by the country on Saturday. The margin of the win was very narrow and the main opposition candidate has called the result a lie.
President Ali Bongo whose family has had the reigns of the Presidency in the country for 50 years polled 49.80 percent of the vote, over his rival half-Chinese diplomat Jean Ping who had gotten 48.23 percent.
The win followed days of vote counting when Jean Ping had boldly declared that he was the winner. Shortly after the results were announced, anti-government protesters clashed with security forces in the capital Libreville. Cries of, “Ali must go!” rent the air as security forces employed tear gas and stun grenades to subdue the protesters and stop them from reaching the headquarters of the Electoral Commission.
A spokeswoman for Ping said that the opposition has rejected the results and has called for a recount in one province where the turnout was allegedly 99.98 percent.
While many in Gabon have expressed fear for a repeat of the violence that followed the 2009 election when Ali Bongo was elected following the death of his father, an autocrat who ruled the country for 41 years, it seems that things have indeed devolved to that state.
Opposition leaders in the country said state security forces attempted to storm their compound early Thursday and two people were killed as a result. Jean Ping who had not been at the party headquarters himself said that;
“They attacked around 1 a.m. (0000 UTC)…It is the Republican Guard. They were bombarding with helicopters and then they attacked on the ground. There are two dead and many injured according to a reliable source.”
A spokesman for the government, however, claims that the raid had only been carried out to apprehend “criminals” who had set fire to the national parliament earlier and one eyewitness who had apparently witnessed the event told AFP;
“The demonstrators entered from the back and set fire to the National Assembly. Part of the building is on fire.”
Jean Ping called for international assistance to protect the population, still insisting that voting figures from each polling station be made public. The US and EU have also called for the results to be made public and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged calm.