An African strongman accused of rigging elections in his own country is preparing to mediate between the two sides contesting the result of last week’s poll in Gabon. Chad’s president, Idriss Déby, who has ruled his country for 26 years, is expected to lead an African Union delegation that is preparing to go to Libreville to try to resolve the crisis. Both sides claimed victory, and post-election clashes between protesters and Gabon’s security forces have left up to 100 people dead, according to the opposition. Hundreds of people been have arrested, the national parliament was torched and the opposition headquarters stormed.
Ali Bongo, the incumbent whose family has ruled Gabon for half a century, was declared the winner by a margin of only 5,000 votes. The opposition pointed out that the purported result in Haut-Ogooué, Bongo’s home region, was impossible. The national electoral commission claimed that more than 99.9% of voters turned out to vote in the region, and 95% of them voted for Bongo – a result described as a “clear anomaly” by EU observers on Tuesday.
The leader of the opposition, Jean Ping, a former foreign minister under Ali Bongo’s father, Omar, saidhe had won days before the election results were released. His spokesman said that between 50 and 100 people had been killed in the violence – far more than the three dead mentioned by the interior minister on Monday.