Post election violence leaves 2 dead, 19 injured in Gabon
Thousands of angry protesters poured onto the streets of Libreville late Wednesday, accusing the government of stealing the election after Bongo won a second term by a razor-thin margin over rival Jean Ping.
Gunfire crackled across the city and plumes of smoke billowed from the torched parliament building as protesters clashed with heavily armed security forces.
Police deployed near the parliament building fired tear gas canisters on Thursday to stop people gathering there.
As the country descended into chaos, the EU called for calm, former colonial power France urged “maximum restraint” and Amnesty International warned against “excessive force.”
By mid-morning Thursday, security forces had sealed off the city centre, which was calm and otherwise deserted, and were making arrests around the opposition headquarters, AFP journalists said.
Two trucks packed with dozens of detainees who raised their fists and chanted the national anthem were seen being driven off for questioning, they said.
– Ping’s whereabouts unknown –
Police chief Jean-Thierry Oye Zue told AFP that more than 200 people had been arrested across town for looting. He said looting was “currently continuing in the poorer districts.” Telephone and internet communications were cut.
It was not immediately clear where Ping — a veteran diplomat and former top African Union official who had earlier declared himself the poll winner — had taken refuge.
The parliament building’s facade was blackened by fire and its windows were smashed. Protesters had torn down its huge main gate and torched a sentry box at the entrance.