Quiet has returned to Gabon after days of deadly riots over the reelection of president Ali Bongo. Over the weekend, shops began to reopen and traffic returned in the capital city, Libreville. Some attended church services.
The country has been hit by protests, internet shutdowns, crackdowns on the media, and mass arrests since last week as angry citizens claim Bongo stole the presidential election, held on Aug. 27. As many as seven people have died and 800 have been arrested. United Nations head Ban Ki-moon on Sept. 4 called on Bongo and his rival Ping to do their part to end the violence.
Opposition candidate Jean Ping, whose headquarters were bombed, has appealed to the United States and France, Gabon’s former colonial power, for help. In an editorial (paywall) in the New York Times this weekend, he continued to call for the release of election results by the polling bureau.
“We, the people of Gabon, demand that Mr. Bongo end the violence and stop ordering our brothers, sisters and children in the security forces to attack our own,” he wrote.
The Bongo family has ruled Gabon’s political and economic life for almost 50 years. Bongo took over the president’s office from his father, Omar Bongo, who held the position for 42 years.