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Monday, September 7, 2009

Gabon's Ali Bongo calls for calm

Gabon's President-elect Ali Ben Bongo has called for calm amid reports of new post-election clashes and despite a curfew in the city of Port Gentil."We are a nation of laws... there are institutions in place for those who have complaints," he told French radio.
Two people have died since Thursday in the violence, much of which has been aimed at French interests in the city. Protesters accuse France of helping fix the poll following the death of Ali Bongo's father, who ruled for 41 years.
The former colonial power was a close ally of the late Omar Bongo and has 1,000 troops the oil-rich nation, but denies the allegations. 'Disappointed or afraid?'The violence has broken out in the industrial city of Port Gentil for a third consecutive night, a military source told the AFP news agency.Earlier, French oil firm Total evacuated their expatriate staff from Port Gentil to the capital, Libreville, after some of its buildings were set ablaze.
There has been widespread looting and makeshift barricades were put up on main roads as protesters and security forces clashed. Correspondents say Libreville has experienced less violence, but has a larger security presence. Despite the unrest, a World Cup-qualifying football match was allowed to go ahead in the capital on Saturday afternoon.
It was originally postponed in June following the death of Omar Bongo. Security was tight at the stadium in Libreville where thousands of fans watched their team lose to Cameroon.Ali Bongo - a passionate football fan - attended wearing the team's colours, but reportedly left 10 minutes before the end of the game.
"Disappointed or afraid? In any case, it was more prudent for him to leave," one fan told AFP. Afterwards the president-elect gave an interview to Radio France Internationale. "Calm must absolutely return to the entire territory," he said. On Friday, the Constitutional Court confirmed his election despite the controversy surrounding the announcement of the results. They were delayed amid a misunderstanding between election officials over how to verify the votes.
All three of the main candidates declared victory following Sunday's poll, while another candidate had been on hunger strike to protest against what he saw as irregularities in the election process. Gabon is sub-Saharan Africa's fourth biggest oil producer and Africa's second biggest wood exporter, although most of its 1.4 million people live in poverty.
Source: BBC

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