Gabon opposition chief Jean Ping calls for calm

Ping, who narrowly lost presidential vote, urges supporters to end violence, as post-election unrest claims more lives.

Gabon’s opposition leader Jean Ping says he has asked his people to “calm down,” as post-election violence claimed more lives and the government’s crackdown continued.

Ping, however, who had already declared himself the winner of last week’s presidential election, insisted that the “truth will finally happen,” saying President Ali Bongo rigged the vote.

“We will access to power, whether he [Bongo] likes it or not. We are going to access to power,” Ping, a veteran diplomat and former top African Union official, told Al Jazeera on Saturday.

Ping called for a total recount under supervision of the UN and European Union.

Bongo, who has been president since 2009, was declared victorious on Wednesday by a razor-thin margin of just under 6,000 votes. Violence has since erupted in different parts of Gabon, leaving several people killed and hundreds of others arrested.

READ MORE: Libreville reels as clashes erupt over vote

On Saturday, two people were killed, including a policeman, the first member of the Gabonese security forces listed as victim in the unrest.

The other was a young man who, according to witnesses was shot dead by security forces.

“The parents of the man wanted to march with the body up to the government building with many other people. They were dispersed by security and defence forces,” a witness told AFP news agency.

Several residents said the death was just one of several in Port-Gentil in recent days caused by security forces.

Interior Minister Pacome Moubelet-Boubeya deplored the death of the policeman, who he says was shot in Oyem, the main town in the country’s north

Moubelet-Boubeya said that, despite the ongoing violence, “we are seeing life returning to Libreville,” with businesses beginning to reopen their doors.

However, the Gabonese capital has been without internet access since Wednesday.

Across the country, the unrest has paralysed transportation, with bread and other fresh foods in short supply, the situation further aggravated by widespread looting.

At a suburbs of Libreville, residents on Saturday were preparing to bury, another young man, Jeffrey Bidzo Bidgong, who was killed on Friday.

People in the area told Al Jazeera that the 18-year-old was shot in the head by a man who was wearing a mask and was in police uniform.

His mother told Al Jazeera that her son had gone to look for an open shop to buy a drink, adding that Jeffrey was not into politics and did not even vote.

“I blame the person who ordered the killings. I don’t know who pulled the trigger. I did not see him but the person who sent him … that’s whom I blame,” the mother, Falone Carvallo, told Al Jazeera.

‘Excessive force

The Archbishop of Libreville on Saturday called on both the ruling party and the opposition to avoid an “imminent crisis”.

The post-vote violence in this small but oil-rich central African nation has sparked international concern, with top diplomats calling for restraint as rights groups raised alarm over the use of “excessive force”.

In a special session on Gabon late on Thursday, the UN Security Council expressed “deep concern” about the situation, urging all sides to “to refrain from violence or other provocations”.

The US government also urged all parties to work together to “halt the slide towards further unrest”.

The post Gabon opposition chief Jean Ping calls for calm appeared first on African Media Agency.


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