Gabon: Opposition leaders face travel ban

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Gabonese authorities have banned members of opposition political parties from leaving the country. Paul Mba Abessole, head of the Rally for Gabon (RPG), was the first to fall victim to this measure. Wednesday, he was blocked from flying to the the Ivory Coast.

The Gabonese government has issued a travel ban on all opposition leaders. They are all suspected to have taken part in the riots that erupted in Libreville and Port Gentil last week after presidential election results were announced. They contested the results, which went in favour of the ruling Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG) candidate, Ali Bongo, son of former president, Omar Bongo. According to official results, he won over 41% of the votes cast.

The first to fall victim to this decision is the president of the Rally for Gabon (RPG), Paul Mba Abessole. He was on his way yesterday (Wednesday) to Abidjan, the Ivory Coast capital, when the border police stopped him from boarding his flight. Paul Mba Abessole, outraged by the restriction on freedom, has said that Gabon is currently sliding into a dictatorship whereby the basic rights of citizens are being held hostage by the government.

At least 10 dead

The Gabonese government has responded to the increasing criticisms by explaining that the measure, which is also directed to leaders of the presidential majority, is to enable the authorities establish those responsible for the post-election violence, which according to the Minister of Interior, Jean François Ndongou, caused the death of 3 persons.

The opposition has, however, contested the official number of victims. They believe that the violence caused more than 10 deaths in Port-Gentil, alone. At a recent press conference in Libreville, they called for the establishment of an international committee of inquiry into the events. The Gabonese authorities have welcomed the idea. The latter are convinced that the opposition leaders are responsible for the unrest that rocked the central African country after the presidential elections.

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