Over 1,000 arrested in Gabon post-election protests

Three people were killed and up to 1,100 were arrested in Gabon on Thursday, the government said, in a second day of rioting over the announcement of President Ali Bongo’s re-election and his main rival’s accusation that the vote was rigged.

Opposition challenger Jean Ping accused the elections commission of inflating Bongo’s score to hand him a slim victory and extend his family’s nearly half-century rule in the oil-producing Central African country for another seven years.

Ping called on Bongo to step down.

Violent protests raged in at least nine neighbourhoods of the capital Libreville, two witnesses and a police source said on Thursday, a day after demonstrators set fire to the parliament building following the results announcement.

“We want everyone to see, to tour the city, to witness the level of devastation, destruction, violence organised by certain politicians who do not want to recognise their defeat,” Reuters quoted the Interior Minister, Pacome Moubelet Boubeya, as saying at a news conference.

He said several television stations, supermarkets, shops, and private homes had been looted in Libreville and the city hall was targeted by arsonists. Violence erupted in several other cities and provinces as well, he said.

Moubelet Boubeya said protesters had used grenades and police had seized AK-47 assault rifles, an accusation an opposition spokesman rejected.

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