Gabon justice minister resigns in protest at disputed vote results
Gabon’s justice minister has resigned in protest at the government’s failure to recount the ballots cast in the African country’s controversial presidential election, which has sparked violent street protests in recent days.
On Monday, Seraphin Moundounga, also a deputy prime minister, announced his resignation on Monday and called for “a recount of the votes, polling station by polling station, and registry by registry.”
The decision comes amid calls by opposition leader Jean Ping for a general strike against the disputed re-election of incumbent President Ali Bongo.
Ping has declared himself winner of the August 27 presidential race, vowing to challenge the “fraudulent” election results.
“We cannot accept that our people will be killed like animals without reacting,” Ping said on Facebook. “I propose to cease all activity and begin a general strike.”
The opposition politician further urged people to “use all means of resistance to topple this tyrant [Bongo] and believe me, he is on the verge of falling.”
Ping is expected to launch an appeal for a vote recount at the Constitutional Court.
There are claims of fraud in the recent presidential poll, notably in Bongo’s home province of Haut-Ogooue as the turnout there exceeded 99 percent, with the incumbent president gaining 95 percent of the votes.
Ping also called for an economic blockage, but the measure did not have much impact on normal life in the capital, Libreville, on Monday as banks and shops were open and taxis were operating normally.
Gabon has been the scene of deadly post-election violence since August 31, when Bongo was declared victorious in the presidential poll by a slim margin.
Bongo was first elected president in 2009 following the death of his father Omar, who had led the country for 42 years.
Gabonese authorities have revised down the number of those killed in the riots from five to three, saying some of the killings had been incorrectly attributed to the riots.
They said over 105 people have also been injured in the violence. Some 800 others have also been arrested, with the government accusing them of looting.
The violence has also raised international concern, with the African Union expressing its readiness to help the warring parties find a solution to the conflict.