New protests set in Gabon following deadly demonstrations
LIBREVILLE – Gabon braced for new protests on Sunday, the day after three people were killed in a demonstration against President Ali Bongo Ondimba, according to the opposition.
Many more were injured in the violence on Saturday, an opposition coalition said in a statement late Saturday.
The public prosecutor has confirmed only that a 30-year-old male student was killed in the clashes.
“In response to a peaceful demonstration the head of state mobilised special units of the gendarmerie and the police and directed the weapons of the republic against peaceful, unarmed Gabonese,” the opposition statement said.
We have already recorded three deaths, many serious injuries and numerous arrests,” it said, condemning “killings committed in cold blood and (with) live ammunition.
The Opposition Front for Change called for a new protest in the capital Libreville at 1:00 pm (1200 GMT) and for demonstrations throughout the west African country.
Security forces were out in large numbers Saturday to prevent hundreds of demonstrators from gathering at Libreville’s Rio Intersection for a rally that had been outlawed by the interior ministry the day before.
“Ali, get out! 50 years is too long!” the crowd chanted.
President Ondimba took office after the 2009 death of his father Omar Bongo, who had been in power since 1967.
Ahead of the demo the United Nations’ special representative for central Africa, Abdoulaye Bathily, had urged the government and the opposition to commit to dialogue to prevent “a deep crisis” in the former French colony.
The political climate in Gabon worsened recently with the publication of a book by journalist Pierre Pean that accuses the president of having falsified his birth certificate and diplomas.
In November, the opposition filed a complaint against the president but prosecutors threw it out.