Sun, Oct 02, 2016 - Page 4 News List

Dozens still held in Gabon over post-election violence


About 70 people, including several opposition figures, were still in detention about a month after a wave of post-election violence erupted in Gabon, a judicial source said on Friday.

Thirty-nine people have been charged for their alleged role in rioting and looting that broke out in Gabon after the disputed vote.

They are being held pending trial, the source said on condition of anonymity.

About 30 others have been brought before a court and were awaiting sentencing, the source added.

Violence erupted on Aug. 31 after Gabonese President Ali Bongo was first declared the winner of the contested vote.

Opposition demonstrators who believed the election had been rigged set parliament ablaze and clashed with police, who made hundreds of arrests.

Many of the detainees were released within days, after being held in often grim conditions.

Among the opposition figures still in detention were ex-MP Bertrand Zibi Abeghe, who resigned in July.

He was charged for “incitement of rebellion” and “committing acts aimed at disturbing the public peace” in the aftermath of the Aug. 27 vote, which Bongo won by a wafer-thin margin.

“He is now being held in solitary confinement in a dungeon and no one is allowed to see him. He runs the risk of paying with his life for having the courage of resigning ... during an election rally,” the former MP’s lawyer Eric Moutet said.

The former head of intelligence, Leon-Paul Ngoulakia — a cousin of Bongo’s who defected to the opposition — was granted provisional release, but was still facing charges, the judicial source said.

Even after the violence died down, the Gabonese authorities continued to arrest opposition figures ahead of the Gabonese Constitutional Court’s dismissal last week of a claim that electoral fraud had been committed.

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