Riots break out in Gabon after opposition leader dies

Rioters set buildings and cars ablaze, accusing the government of killing Andre Mba Obame, who died on Sunday.

    Riots break out in Gabon after opposition leader dies
    Andre Mba Obame has been frequently absent from the country for health reasons [File: AFP]

    Correction, 14/4/2015: The headline of an earlier version of this article said riots occurred in Benin. This was incorrect. The riots occurred in Gabon.

    Riots broke out in the capital of the Central African nation of Gabon, with opposition supporters rampaging through the streets setting buildings and vehicles on fire, following the death of a senior opposition leader.

    Many rioters on the streets of Libreville accuse the government of murdering Andre Mba Obame, who had contested in the disputed 2009 presidential election.

    The embassy of Benin and government service cars were reportedly burnt in Sunday's violence. Dozens of other vehicles and private property were vandalised.

    "Everything will be done to find the perpetrators and those behind these criminal acts, because, according to initial information, they were committed by individuals following orders," Interior Minister Guy Bertrand Mpangou said.

    Mba Obame died on Sunday in Yaounde, the capital of neighbouring Cameroon, aged 57.

    There was no cause of death mentioned in the statement from the National Union, which he had joined shortly after the 2009 elections. He had been frequently absent from the country for health reasons.

    Mba Obame served as an adviser to longtime President Omar Bongo, eventually rising to the post of minister of the interior. However, he broke with the ruling party to run for the presidency as an independent following Bongo's death in 2009.

    Though official results handed victory to the late leader's son, Ali Bongo, Mba Obame declared himself the winner, leading the authorities to accuse him of treason.

    The Gabonese capital has been under heavy security since the beginning of April as supporters of both the ruling party and the opposition planned mass rallies.

    Tensions have been rising after allegations that the incumbent President Bongo falsified his birth certificate and diplomas.

    In December last year, violent demonstrations broke out after Bongo faced mounting criticism over a range of grievances and trade union disputes. 

    SOURCE: Agencies


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