French consulate in flames after election results announced

Violence flared on Thursday in Gabon after Ali Bongo, the son of late leader Omar Bongo, was declared the country’s ruler. A French consulate was torched and a prison attacked after rumours spread that the former colonial power had somehow helped to fix the election.

The French consulate was set alight in Port-Gentil, the second largest city in Gabon, while supporters of opposition candidate Pierre Mamboundou descended on the city prison and freed inmates.

Meanwhile, the roads of the capital Libreville were littered with burnt out cars, tyre fires and upturned rubbish bins turned into makeshift barricades.

The violence followed the election commission’s announcement that Bongo had won with 42 per cent of the vote.

The annoucnement faced several delays. Before they were announced, police used tear gas and batons against protesters outside the electoral commission building. Opposition leaders Pierre Mamboundou and Andre Mba Obame were amongst the protesters.

All three candidates claimed victory after an election which African Union observers said were poorly organised. They said that ballot boxes were not sealed in some places and election staff did not “master the voting process”.

France declared itself neutral in the elections, but Nicolas Sarkozy met with Ali Bongo at the Elysée in France while his father was ill.


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