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Page last updated at 08:35 GMT, Thursday, 10 September 2009 09:35 UK

Travel ban for Gabon opposition

Opposition leaders, including Paul Mba Abessole (r)
Mr Abessole (r) said he left the airport as he did not want to make a scene

Gabon has barred opposition leaders from leaving the country following recent riots over claims of fraud in last month's presidential election.

One defeated candidate said he had been prevented from flying to Ivory Coast. A minister said the ban would last while the violence was investigated.

Ali Ben Bongo was declared the winner, sparking violent protests in Port Gentil, an opposition stronghold.

Mr Bongo succeeds his father, Omar, who died in June after 41 years in power.

"Police told me that they had received strict orders not to let opposition leaders travel," Paul Mba Abessole told the AFP news agency.

He said he had not wanted to cause a row, so he left the airport with his bags.

Interior Minister Jean-Francois Ndongou said the violence had been political, so "it is normal that we look into political leaders".

'Manipulation'

Some 300 have been arrested after the protests, in which shops were looted and the French consulate attacked.

Very scandalous rigging of ballot boxes, as well as incomprehensive swelling of voting lists have contributed to falsify the vote in favour of PDG
Former PM Jean Eyeghe Ndong

The opposition says 15 people have died. The authorities put the figure at three.

They accuse former colonial power France of backing Mr Bongo, who ran as the ruling party candidate.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has sent a letter of congratulations to Mr Bongo but his foreign minister has denied that it favoured any candidate.

A group of 16 candidates has called for a recount.

Former Prime Minister Jean Eyeghe Ndong, acting as spokesman for the group, said there had been "huge manipulation" of the results.

"Very scandalous rigging of ballot boxes, as well as incomprehensive swelling of voting lists have contributed to falsify the vote in favour of PDG [the ruling party]," he said.

Mr Bongo said the defeated candidates should take their disputes to court.



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Country profile: Gabon
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