/ 10 September 2009

Govt stops opposition leaders from leaving Gabon

Gabon’s opposition leaders are barred from leaving the country in the wake of post-election violence in its second city, the Interior Ministry said on Wednesday.

”While waiting to find who is responsible [for the violence] in Port Gentil, they cannot leave Gabon,” an adviser to the interior minister told Agence France-Presse.

The official spoke after Paul Mba Abessole, one of the candidates in the August 30 presidential election, was unable to board an evening flight to Côte d’Ivoire.

”During formalities, police told me that they had received strict orders not to let opposition leaders travel,” Mba Abessole said

Gabon’s second city, Port Gentil, was wracked by violence last week after ruling party candidate Ali Bongo was declared the winner of the election, succeeding his father and long-time ruler Omar Bongo, who died in June.

The government said three people died in the unrest but denied they were killed by soldiers. The opposition charged on Wednesday that at least 15 people were killed.

The governor of the province that includes Port Gentil, Thomas Nkouhomi, said on Wednesday that 311 people were arrested in the unrest and that ”calm has returned” to the oil hub. — Sapa-AFP