Published On : Monday, September 05 2016
Gabon’s opposition leader accused the regime of “bombing” his headquarters and killing two people on Thursday after President Ali Ben Bongo claimed re-election by a tiny margin of 5,594 votes.
Jean Ping, who lost the presidential election by a whisker, at least according to official results, said that a helicopter had then attacked his party’s offices. He disputed the election outcome, saying: “Everybody knows that I won.”
Mr Bongo took over the presidency after the death of his father, Omar, who had ruled Gabon for almost 42 years.
Mr Ping told Reuters news agency that he had been cheated of victory in a rigged contest. “The (Bongo) family are repeating the same scenario for almost half a century. The opposition can win the elections but they have never had access to power,” he said.
The (Bongo) family are repeating the same scenario for almost half a century. The opposition can win the elections but they have never had access to power
Thousands vented their anger over the official result, setting a wing of the parliament building on fire in the capital, Libreville.
Mr Ping said that he was in hiding. “I could be arrested at any moment,” he told French radio. “They're probably trying to find me so they can arrest me. Half an hour from now, my safety could be undermined, or I could perhaps risk physical harm."
Protesters marched against the outcome of Gabon's election, which they said was rigged.
Protesters marched against the outcome of Gabon's election, which they said was rigged. CREDIT: AFP
The official results show that Mr Ping won six out of nine provinces. But the outcome of the election was decided by the result in Mr Bongo’s home province, where official figures showed a turnout of 99.9 per cent and a vote for the president of 95 per cent.
"It's not a very common result, that's for sure,” said Sarah Crozier, a spokesman for the European Union election observer mission.
Mr Bongo, 57, sent his sons to school in Britain and owns a £50 million house in Mayfair. He nominated a Briton, Professor Lee White, to head Gabon’s wildlife authority.
Mr Bongo was credited by the Prince of Wales with giving him the idea to host the London Conference on the illegal wildlife trade in 2014. The two men have also worked together on deforestation and ocean conservation.