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‘Between 50 and 100 killed’ in Gabon election violence, presidential challenger tells FRANCE 24

© Marco Longari, AFP | Jean Ping, 73, says he is the rightful winner of last month's disputed presidential election.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2016-09-07

Opposition challenger Jean Ping told FRANCE 24 on Tuesday that between 50 and 100 people have died in the violence that followed President Ali Bongo’s disputed re-election in Gabon, with both sides claiming victory.

Ping, a former head of the African Union, has declared he is the rightful winner of last month’s vote, which saw the incumbent clinch a second term after a razor-thin victory.

Election commission results showed President Bongo won by just 1.57 percentage points, and clashes quickly broke out after the results were announced last week.

"There've been between 50 and 100 deaths. The people in power are killing every day,” Ping told FRANCE 24 on Tuesday.

“The UN, France, the European Union and the African Union asked me to call for calm. I did this. And immediately, the difficulties we've seen stopped. I myself was surprised, because I don't control the population. It stopped,” Ping added.

“There was the same call from the president’s camp but the killing continued night and day," he said.

More than 1,000 people have been detained in the unrest. The government has reported at least three deaths, though residents say there are likely more.

Reacting to Ping’s allegations, Gabon’s presidential spokesman, Alain Claude Bilie-By-Nze, dismissed the death toll given by the opposition candidate and accused him of seeking to instigate violence.

“From the start Mr Ping has followed a strategy of violence aimed at plunging the country into chaos,” Bilie-By-Nze told FRANCE 24.

The presidential spokesman rejected criticism of the electoral process voiced by observers from the European Union, accusing the observer mission of complicity with Gabon’s opposition.

In a written statement on Tuesday, the observers said they were certain there had been a "clear anomaly" in results from one of Gabon’s nine provinces.

"An analysis of the number of non-voters as well as blank and disqualified votes reveals a clear anomaly in the final results in Haut-Ogooué" province, Bongo's fiefdom, the observers wrote.

According to official figures, turnout in Haut-Ogooué crossed 99 percent with 95 percent voting for the president.

The observers’ statement adds to the mounting international pressure on Gabon’s government, which is resisting calls for a recount of votes cast in the election.

Earlier on Tuesday, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls reiterated calls for a recount in Gabon, a former French colony.

“Common sense would command a recount of the ballots,” Valls told RTL radio.

His comments came a day after Gabon's justice minister resigned over the government's refusal to grant a recount, adding more uncertainty to this oil-rich Central African country that has been run by the Bongo family since the 1960s.

Date created : 2016-09-06

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