Unrest is reported to have intensified in Gabon after election officials gave their verdict on the country’s disputed presidential election.
They confirmed the pre-poll favourite, Ali Ben Bongo had won, delighting his supporters but enraging those of opposition candidates who claim the vote was rigged. Bongo is the son of the late long-time president, Omar Bongo. His opponents say the family is trying to establish a ruling dynasty in the oil rich west African nation. In recent days there has been rioting in the capital Libreville and the oil city of Port Gentil. The disturbances have been fuelled by reports that one of Bongo’s main rivals, Pierre Mamboundo, had been seriously injured during clashes between security forces and his supporters. The official results put him in third place, behind Bongo and another opposition leader. One of many people caught up in the trouble accused soldiers of opening fire on protestors. “I never expected anything like this. They started to shoot and a bullet grazed my head. Then I fell to the ground,” he said. Bongo’s father brought decades of stability to Gabon, but also accusations that he channelled the country’s oil wealth to family and friends. As well as restoring order, analysts say his son will face a major challenge in diversifying Gabon’s economy as the oil runs out.