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Africa
Gabon calm after election unrest
Police detain more than 50 people, but protests over disputed vote said to be over.
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2009 12:11 GMT

Libreville, Gabon's capital, also suffered in the
post-election violence [AFP]

Gabon's main cities have largely returned to calm following a day of unrest sparked by the election win of Ali Bongo, the late president's son.

Police detained more than 50 people in Port Gentil, Gabon's second city, on Friday, and some incidents of looting were reported.

"It is calm now ... [but] there is evidence of pillage from yesterday," the Reuters news agency reported Guiroger Ragoula, a Port Gentil resident, as saying.

A day earlier, protesters had attacked the offices of French oil firm Total and set fire to the French consulate in the town, after Bongo's disputed election victory was declared.

French troops were brought in to protect the consulate building.

France, Gabon's former colonial ruler, has moved out many of its citizens from Port Gentil and advised thousands of other French residents across the country to stay in their homes.

Disputed poll

Bernard Kouchner, France's foreign minister, denied his country had helped Ali Bongo win the vote and said Paris would accept the final results despite the opposition protests.

"There was barely any delay in the preparation and the carrying out of the election. It was all done transparently. France did not intervene," Kouchner told French radio.

Bongo, whose father Omar Bongo died in June, won 41.73 per cent of the vote, according to interior ministry figures.

Andre Mba Obame, an ex-interior minister,  and Pierre Mamboundou, another election rival, both won about 25 per cent of the vote, the interior ministry said.

But all three had declared victory before the results were announced.

Moved to a secret location following the violence, Obame was reported by the AFP news agency as saying: "This is an electoral coup d'etat. I do not recognise the election results. It's me who won."

Observers and financial markets have played down the risk of major instability in the tiny African country, but said that some unrest was expected given the dispute over the result.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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