Two killed in Gabon after clashes with police overnight
Two men died after overnight clashes in Gabon’s capital Libreville between security forces and demonstrators protesting President Ali Bongo’s announced victory in a disputed election, witnesses and an AFP journalists said Friday.
Bekam Ella Edzang, a 27-year-old law student, died of his wounds in hospital on Friday morning after he was shot in the abdomen, an AFP journalist said.
“He was injured at around 9:00 pm (2000 GMT) by the Republican Guard, who were firing tear gas and live bullets,” a childhood friend of the victim who identified himself only as Geraud told AFP at the hospital.
In the Libreville district of Nzeng Ayong, another AFP correspondent saw dozens of protesters carrying the body of a 30-year-old wrapped in the flag of the central African nation.
His mother told AFP he was shot in front of his home on Thursday night.
The latest deaths take the toll up to five killed since riots and protests broke out on Wednesday after Bongo was declared the winner of the weekend presidential vote by a razor-thin margin.
His main rival Jean Ping and his supporters say the vote result was rigged.
At the request of former colonial power France, the UN Security Council held a special session on Gabon on Thursday and expressed “deep concern” about the post-election situation.
Council members “called upon all candidates, their supporters, political parties and other actors to remain calm, refrain from violence or other provocations and to resolve any eventual disputes through established constitutional and legal mechanisms,” said New Zealand’s Ambassador Gerard van Bohemen, who holds the council presidency this month.
Also Thursday, the United States warned its citizens in Gabon to stay indoors and urged political factions to put an end to violent street battles.
“We urge all parties to come together peacefully in this critical time to halt the slide towards further unrest,” said US State Department spokesman John Kirby.
“The international community is watching these events closely and will consider appropriate action,” he warned.
Addressing his country earlier that day, Bongo poured scorn on the opposition demonstrators.
“Democracy does not fit comfortably with self-declared victory, with small groups trained in destruction,” Bongo said in a short speech from the presidential palace.
“Democracy does not sit well with an attack on parliament,” he said, referring to the national assembly building that was set ablaze Wednesday night.
“The elections have delivered their verdict… Who lost? A small group whose only plan was to take power to make use of Gabon rather than serve it.”
Soon after Saturday’s poll Ping, 73, said he had won and that any results to the contrary would be fraudulent.
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