Gabon po­lice ar­rest 200 over post-elec­tion loot­ing

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

LI­BRE­VILLE — More than 200 peo­ple have been ar­rested for loot­ing in Gabon’s cap­i­tal, Li­bre­ville, where vi­o­lence broke out fol­low­ing a dis­puted pres­i­den­tial elec­tion re­sult, the po­lice chief said yes­ter­day.

“We have ar­rested more than 200 loot­ers since last night,” na­tional po­lice chief Jean-Thierry Oye Zue said. “Loot­ing is cur­rently con­tin­u­ing in the poorer dis­tricts.”

“Six po­lice of­fi­cers have been in­jured,” Oye Zue said, ad­ding that sev­eral civil­ians had also “most likely” been hurt.

He did not con­firm how­ever if there had been any deaths. “I can’t tell you that,” he said.

AFP jour­nal­ists saw two trucks packed with dozens of de­tainees, who raised their fists in the air and chanted the Cen­tral African coun­try’s na­tional an­them as they were driven off for ques­tion­ing.

Vi­o­lence erupted yes­ter­day af­ter Pres­i­dent Ali Bongo was de­clared the win­ner of the con­tested polls, with thou­sands of an­gry pro­test­ers tak­ing to the streets of Li­bre­ville ac­cus­ing the gov­ern­ment of steal­ing the elec­tion from ri­val Jean Ping.

The op­po­si­tion leader said se­cu­rity forces killed two peo­ple and in­jured 19 more at his head­quar­ters.

Mean­while, Ping has de­manded a re­count af­ter the knife-edge pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in the West African na­tion. Speak­ing to Al Jazeera from Li­bre­ville, Ping said the re­sult was “a joke”.

“Ev­ery­body in­side and out­side the coun­try knows that I’m the win­ner. There is no doubt about that. All the Euro­pean ob­servers know that,” Ping said.

“What we are ask­ing is, un­der the su­per­vi­sion of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, to count bal­lot by bal­lot, bureau by bureau. And then you will see that the mar­gin is so big that he can­not win. It’s as sim­ple as that.”

The Reuters news agency re­ported that ri­ot­ing had erupted in at least nine dif­fer­ent sub­urbs of the cap­i­tal yes­ter­day, cit­ing wit­nesses and a po­lice source.

As the vi­o­lence spread, France called on the gov­ern­ment of the for­mer French colony to re­lease details of lo­cal vote tal­lies af­ter the claims of rig­ging.

“The elec­tion re­sult must be per­fectly clear and trans­par­ent,” French For­eign Min­is­ter Jean-Marc Ayrault said on RMC ra­dio, ad­ding that the elec­tion re­sults should be pub­lished bureau by bureau.

Overnight yes­ter­day, se­cu­rity forces at­tacked the op­po­si­tion head­quar­ters in Li­bre­ville, Ping said, wound­ing sev­eral peo­ple. “The pres­i­den­tial guard plus some mer­ce­nar­ies and the po­lice, af­ter 1AM, bombed my head­quar­ters. They de­stroyed ev­ery­thing, and we have now two deaths and sev­eral peo­ple in­jured.”

Mo­ments af­ter the poll re­sults were an­nounced by the in­te­rior min­istry on Wed­nes­day, anti-gov­ern­ment pro­test­ers shout­ing “Ali must go!” tried to storm the of­fices of the elec­tion com­mis­sion.

Later on Wed­nes­day the coun­try’s par­lia­ment build­ing was par­tially set on fire.

Al Jazeera’s Cather­ine Soi, re­port­ing from the elec­toral com­mis­sion com­pound in Li­bre­ville, said Ping’s camp would not ac­cept the re­sult.

“Pro­test­ers came right out­side this com­pound, many of them light­ing tyres and chant­ing anti-gov­ern­ment songs,” she said.

“They were dis­persed by the po­lice,” she said, ad­ding that ex­plo­sions could be heard in the dis­tance.

Ear­lier, clouds of smoke and tear gas could be seen over parts of the city where clashes were tak­ing place.

By night­fall, pro­test­ers vented their fury by set­ting fire to the par­lia­ment build­ing, send­ing sky­ward a plume of flames and black smoke, wit­nesses and AFP news agency cor­re­spon­dents said.

Mean­while, the EU for­eign pol­icy chief Fed­er­ica Mogherini called for all sides in Gabon to re­ject vi­o­lence as the coun­try de­scends into chaos fol­low­ing pres­i­den­tial elec­tions.

“The of­fi­cial an­nounce­ment of re­sults has plunged Gabon into a deep cri­sis,” Mogherini said in a state­ment. “It is im­por­tant for all par­ties to re­ject vi­o­lence and call for calm.”— Al Jazeera

More than 200 peo­ple have been ar­rested for loot­ing in Gabon’s cap­i­tal, Li­bre­ville, where vi­o­lence broke out fol­low­ing a dis­puted pres­i­den­tial elec­tion re­sult, the po­lice chief said yes­ter­day

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