Protesters set fire to Gabon′s parliament after president re-elected | News | DW | 31.08.2016
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Protesters set fire to Gabon's parliament after president re-elected

Gabon's opposition says two people have died after security forces tried to storm their headquarters. Witnesses said thousands took to the streets after an announcement that President Ali Bongo had been re-elected.

Opposition leaders in Gabon said state security forces attempted to storm their compound early Thursday, with two people killed as a result.

"They attacked around 1 a.m. (0000 UTC)," said Ping, who was not at the party headquarters himself. "It is the Republican Guard. They were bombarding with helicopters and then they attacked on the ground. There are two dead and many injured according to a reliable source."

Jude Bertrand Mecam, a member of Ping's party who was in the building when it was raided, told DW the security situation was "catastrophic." He said authorities had destroyed furniture in the building and vehicles outside.

A government spokesman said the raid had been carried out to apprehend "criminals" who had set fire to the national parliament earlier. Clashes had erupted on Wednesday, after the incumbent, Ali Bongo, was declared the winner of Saturday's presidential poll, with opposition supporters chanting, "Ali must go!"

Bongo won 49.80 percent of the vote against 48.23 percent for his rival, Jean Ping, adding another seven years to his rule of the Central African country.

His re-election extends the rule of one of Africa's longest political dynasties to more than 50 years. Ping rejected the electoral results and demanded a recount.

Bildkombo Ali Bongo und Jean Ping Gabon

Ali Bongo (l) defeated challenger Jean Ping in the polls, officials declared

"The demonstrators entered from the back and set fire to the National Assembly. ... Part of the building is on fire," one eyewitness told the news wire AFP. Firemen had arrived and were attempting to put out the flames, he said.

The national assembly lies on the same road as several important institutions, among them the Senate, the Oil Ministry, several embassies and the headquarters of state television.

Three people were reportedly shot dead by security forces and many more wounded after crowds tried to storm the offices of the electoral commission in Libreville shortly after authorities announced Bongo's re-election.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault urged an immediate end to the violence on Thursday, saying that Paris was "extremely concerned."

"Within the framework of a political process, there's no room for violence," said Ayrault, in a written statement. "I'm calling, therefore, all parties to exercise the utmost restraint to avoid additional victims."

jbh,rc/gsw (Reuters, AFP)

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