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Gabon's Government Bans Protest Demonstrations Against President Bongo's Re-election

Gabon's government has banned demonstrations and says security forces will shoot without warning to break up any protests against the re-election of President Omar Bongo. The government move follows rioting late last week by supporters of two leading opposition candidates who say last Sunday’s presidential election was rigged to give Mr. Bongo a new seven-year term.

Eram Desiree, who publishes the Gabonese weekly newspaper Echodunord, tells English to Africa reporter Ashenafi Abedje the situation in Libreville is calm, with no major security force presence. But the two main defeated candidates, Pierre Mamboundou and Zacharie Myboto, have rejected the poll results and have called on people to protest by not going to work. Mr. Desiree says many people have reported to work, while many others are staying away. He says it’s difficult to estimate what percentage of the workforce is responding to the opposition’s call.

The independent journalist says the government has not given any indication it will investigate the allegations of voting fraud. Instead, he says, President Bongo has appealed to the opposition to “work with his government.” Mr. Desiree says a majority of Gabonese people are tired of President Bongo’s rule, which has lasted 38 years. He says they yearn for a new era and a new government led by the opposition.