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Page last updated at 20:44 GMT, Thursday, 3 September 2009 21:44 UK

Gabon rampage after poll result

Libreville after the violence, 03/09
Police used teargas and batons to clear protesters in Libreville

Opposition activists have clashed with security forces in Gabon after election results confirmed Ali Ben Bongo as president with 42% of the vote.

A curfew has been declared in Port Gentil, AFP news agency reported, where crowds set a French consulate alight.

Earlier, Paris advised its 10,000 citizens in Gabon to remain inside.

Critics say the poll last weekend was fixed to ensure Ali Ben Bongo succeeded his father, Omar Bongo, who ruled the oil-producing nation for 41 years.

The BBC's Linel Kwatsi in the capital, Libreville, says many people are staying in their homes in fear of more unrest.

He says even before the election results were announced people were expecting trouble on the streets regardless of who won.

French protection

In other violence in Port Gentil, Gabon's second city, opposition supporters stormed a jail, freeing its inmates.

ALI BEN BONGO
Ali Ben Bongo
Born in 1959 in Brazzaville, his mother is Gabonese singer and musician Patience Dabany
Studied at Sorbonne in Paris before entering politics in 1981
Became foreign affairs minister in 1989 - forced to quit in 1991 because he was too young
Organised pop-star Michael Jackson's visit to Gabon in 1992
Served as defence minister 1999-2009
Source: Ali Ben Bongo's website

They later rampaged through the streets and set fire to the French consulate - as many accuse the former colonial power of propping up the late Omar Bongo's government.

France has about 1,000 troops stationed in Gabon and its International Development Minister Alain Joyandet said "measures were in place" to protect French citizens.

Earlier, police used teargas and batons to disperse protests in Libreville.

'Electoral coup'

Former interior minister Andre Mba Obame, who came second in Gabon's presidential election, told AFP he "does not recognise the results" and that he is in fact the winner.

"This is an electoral coup d'etat. I do not recognise the election results. It is me who won," Mba Obame said by telephone from a secret location.

Opposition leaders have denounced the poll results as a fraud and accuse Mr Bongo and his supporters of carrying out a coup d'etat.

Another of the beaten candidates, Pierre Mamboundou, led protests overnight in Libreville.

A senior member of his party, the Gabonese People's Union, says Mr Mamboundou was seriously injured in the head and shoulder, but was now safe.

'Unifier'

Amid the unrest, Ali Ben Bongo pledged to be a uniting force for the oil-rich nation.

Gabon map

"As far as I am concerned, I am and I will always be the president of all the people of Gabon," he said after his victory was announced.

"I am and I will always be at the service of all, without exclusion."

Mr Bongo was widely tipped to succeed his father, who died in June.

One of the world's richest men, the late president owned a string of properties in France and was an unflinching ally of Paris.

A month before his death, French courts began to investigate Mr Bongo for corruption - allegations he denied.

Gabon is sub-Saharan Africa's fourth biggest oil producer and Africa's second biggest wood exporter, although most of its 1.4 million people live in poverty.



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SEE ALSO
Police disperse Gabon opposition
03 Sep 09 |  Africa
Country profile: Gabon
26 Jan 11 |  Country profiles

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