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PM denies government mulling emergency powers

Video by Florence VILLEMINOT


Latest update : 2009-09-07

In an exclusive interview with FRANCE 24, Gabon's Prime Minister Paul Biyoghe Mba has denied his government was considering a state of emergency in the riot-hit city of Port-Gentil, contradicting an earlier statement from his interior minister.

AFP - The death toll in post-election unrest in Gabon's second city stands at three, Interior Minister Jean-Francois Ndongou said Sunday, as he revealed the government is considering emergency powers if violence does not subside.

"The president and the prime minister do not want to put Port-Gentil under a state of siege. We are not yet at that level," Ndongou told local officials in Port-Gentil, which is already under a dusk-to-dawn curfew.

"But if peace, order and harmony are not restored, we are going to solicit authorisation to do so from parliament."

Under the constitution, Gabon's president can, after cabinet discussion and consulation with parliament, decree a state of emergency or a state of siege, thus assuming "special powers under conditions set out by law".

"A state of siege is serious," warned Ndongou, who spoke of a potential lockdown of the city. "There would be a ban on movement without special authorisation. Do not turn Port-Gentil into a battlefield."

Together with the defence minister, Ndongou on Sunday put the death toll in Port-Gentil at three since violence erupted on Thursday following the declaration of Ali Bongo as winner of the August 30 presidential vote.

Of the fatalities, "not one death is due to the presence of the military," he said, adding that he was ready to accept "an international investigation" into the unrest.

AFP had previously put the death toll at at least two, based on statements from relatives of the victims. Ndongou did not say how many people were injured or arrested.

Bongo, 50, is the son of former president Omar Bongo, who was Africa's longest-serving ruler until his death in June.

Date created : 2009-09-06