Police in Gabon’s capital, Libreville, have arrested more than 200 suspected looters as post-election tensions cause disruptions in the West African country. “We have arrested more than 200 looters since last night,” national police chief Jean-Thierry Oye Zue said on Thursday, adding, “Looting is currently continuing in the poorer districts.”
Chaos hit the country shortly after election officials declared on Wednesday that incumbent President Ali Bongo had won the presidential race. Media agencies, citing witnesses and a police source, reported public disobedience in at least nine different suburbs of Libreville attributed to opposition forces.
Supporters of opposition leader Jean Ping set fire to the National Assembly while chanting “Ali must go.” Security forces also raided the opposition headquarters in the capital, injuring several people there. The opposition leader said two people had been killed and 19 others were injured in the police crackdown.
Ping has called the election fraudulent, arguing that he is the true winner of the presidential contest. Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called on the nation to be calm.
The European Union and Western countries, including the US and France, have also urged calm and called on authorities in the former French colony to show more transparency about the election results. Out of a total of 627,805 votes, Bongo gained 49.80 percent of Saturday’s vote against 48.23 percent for Ping.
Bongo, who came to power in 2009, will now remain at the helm for a second 7-year term if the results are approved by the country’s constitutional court. Ali Bongo, 57, succeeded his father Omar Bongo who had come to power in 1967 and passed away in 2009. Ping, who is 73, had been a close ally of Omar Bongo.