- Central Africa
Gabon: Fear of post-electoral violence grips Libreville
According to the President of the Autonomous and Permanent National Electoral Commission (CENAP), Rene Aboghé Ella, results of Sunday’s presidential election will be announced Wednesday. The Gabonese, fearing an eruption of violence, are awaiting the results with much impatience and apprehension. All three main candidates, Ali Bongo, Pierre Mamboundou and Andre Mba Obame, have already claimed victory.
Relieved by assurances from the CENAP, who on Monday rescheduled the release of the presidential election results, Libreville this morning returned, seemingly, to its usual hustle and bustle. But at a closer look, the main streets of Libreville, swarming with the usual mix of people, was doing business differently. Those on the streets were, in fact, stock-piling food reserves in anticipation of a possible outburst of social unrest following the announcement of the election results.
Libreville authorities have, since yesterday, deployed police forces into a large number of neighbourhoods in the capital, including areas surrounding the headquarters of the independent candidate, André Mba Obame, former interior minister. According to eyewitnesses, Police elements were visible until early evening. Meanwhile, most Libreville residents remain holed up at home and very few shops, besides those on the main commercial streets, opened for business. Traders have expressed fears of surprise protests by party zealots.
Results could be highly contested
Given the current climate, it is very likely that the pending results from Sunday’s electoral exercise are hotly contested, although each political camp is equipped with a report from all the 3000 polling stations. The reports are supposed to reduce the risk of fraud and deal with contradictory tendencies. However, the current situation is characterised by uncertainty as the three main candidates — Ali Bongo, Pierre Mamboundou and Andre Mba Obame — have all declared themselves winners. With each one of them skilfully manipulating the results in their own favour, the Gabonese people have been thrown into total disarray.
This has given rise to fears of inter-ethnic clashes, considering the fact that most of the candidates campaigned on ethnic lines, an attitude that has led to the emergence of hostile tribal identities.