Gabon opposition leader urges general strike after disputed election
Gabon's opposition Leader, Jean Ping.
Gabon's opposition leader appealed on Monday for a general strike in response to what he said was a fraudulent re-election of President Ali Bongo, while the justice minister resigned over the government's failure to organize a recount.
Their protests undermined Bongo's attempts to project stability following the election's violent aftermath, though few citizens in the capital Libreville appeared to heed his defeated rival Jean Ping's strike call as economic activity picked back up.
Ping, a former African Union Commission chairman who declared himself Gabon's leader, said his fight was not over. "I ask you from today onward not to use violence but to resist by blocking the country's economy," he said in a statement to all Gabonese. "I propose to cease all activity and begin a general strike."
At least six people were killed and more than 1,000 arrested in violence after Wednesday's announcement of a slim victory for Bongo. His family has run the oil-producing central African country - where the only refinery resumed operations on Monday - for half a century.
An adviser to the interior minister told Reuters on Sunday that several dozen people had been released, but several Libreville residents said that they had not seen or heard from family members since the riots. Former colonial power France also expressed concern about the safety of several of its nationals whom, Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said in a statement, French authorities have not had news of in recent days.
Home to around 14,000 French citizens and a military base with 450 French troops, Gabon is statistically one of Africa's richest countries with a GDP per capita of $10,000 a year.