As rival claimants continue making pitch for power
By Lukman Akintola
The on-going political crisis in the Central African nation of Gabon may finally be resolved through the formation of a national government that is acceptable to the leading claimants for power, opposition leader, Jean Ping and incumbent President Ali Bongo.
And should this be the situation, it will be following in the tradition of previous negotiated settlements as had been the case in Kenya and Zimbabwe.
The post-vote violence in the small but oil-rich central African nation has sparked concern across Africa and the world, with top diplomats calling for restraint even as rights groups have continued to raise the alarm over what they term the use of “excessive force”.
In a special session on Gabon late on Thursday, the UN Security Council expressed “deep concern” about the situation, urging all sides to “to refrain from violence or other provocations”.
The US government also urged all parties to work together to “halt the slide towards further unrest”.
Meanwhile, Ping, who narrowly lost the presidential vote, according to results released by the Interior Ministry, has urged supporters to end violence, even as the spate of post-election unrest claims more lives.
According to sources close to the former African Union Chief, he has asked his people to “calm down,” as post-election violence claimed more lives and the government’s crackdown continued.
Ping, however, who had already declared himself the winner of last week’s presidential election, insisted that the “truth will finally happen,” saying President Ali Bongo rigged the vote.
“We will access to power, whether he [Bongo] likes it or not. We are going to access to power,” the veteran diplomat told Al Jazeera on Saturday.
He has called for a total recount under supervision of the UN and European Union.
Bongo, who has been president since 2009, was declared victorious on Wednesday by a razor-thin margin of just under 6,000 votes. Violence has since erupted in different parts of Gabon, leaving several people killed and hundreds of others arrested.
On Saturday, two people were killed, including a policeman, the first member of the Gabonese security forces listed as victim in the unrest.
The other was a young man who, according to witnesses was shot dead by security forces.
“The parents of the man wanted to march with the body up to the government building with many other people. They were dispersed by security and defence forces,” a witness told AFP news agency.
Several residents said the death was just one of several in Port-Gentil in recent days caused by security forces.
Interior Minister Pacome Moubelet-Boubeya deplored the death of the policeman, who he says was shot in Oyem, the main town in the country’s north
Moubelet-Boubeya said that, despite the ongoing violence, “we are seeing life returning to Libreville,” with businesses beginning to reopen their doors.
However, the Gabonese capital has been without internet access since Wednesday.
Across the country, the unrest has paralysed transportation, with bread and other fresh foods in short supply, the situation further aggravated by widespread looting.
At a suburbs of Libreville, residents on Saturday were preparing to bury, another young man, Jeffrey Bidzo Bidgong, who was killed on Friday.
People in the area told Al Jazeera that the 18-year-old was shot in the head by a man who was wearing a mask and was in police uniform.
His mother told Al Jazeera that her son had gone to look for an open shop to buy a drink, adding that Jeffrey was not into politics and did not even vote.
“I blame the person who ordered the killings. I don’t know who pulled the trigger. I did not see him but the person who sent him … that’s whom I blame,” the mother, Falone Carvallo, told Al Jazeera.
The Archbishop of Libreville on Saturday called on both the ruling party and the opposition to avoid an “imminent crisis”.