A curfew was introduced and Internet connections were interrupted in Gabon from August 26, shortly before the end of the presidential elections between outgoing President Ali Bongo Ondimba and his main opponent, Albert Ondo Ossa.

The latter denounced “orchestrated fraud” by the Bongo camp during the presidential and legislative elections and demanded to be declared the winner at the end of the ballot.

To avoid “the dissemination of calls for violence (…) and false information”, “the government has taken the decision to suspend access to the Internet throughout the territory until further notice”. A national curfew has been decreed and will be applied from Sunday August 27.

It will be in force every day, from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m.,” Rodrigue Mboumba Bissayouu, Minister of Communications, told state television. A provisional ban on the broadcasting in Gabon of the media France 24, RFI, and TV5 Monde was also ordered, “accused of a lack of objectivity and balance in the treatment of information in relation to the legislative elections in progress”.

The Episcopal Conference of Gabon had called for two days of prayer and penance for the country on July 7 and 8 in view of the elections on August 26 (see Fides 10/7/2023), marked by tensions after the announcement made on July 8 by the outgoing President of his desire to run for a third term. Ali Bongo Ondimba, 64, succeeded his father, Omar Bongo, after his death in 2009, thus perpetuating the power of a family dynasty that had begun in 1967 with the installation of the then Albert-Bernard Bongo, who became El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba after his conversion to Islam.

The opposition wants to end the long period of power of the Bongo family and has chosen Albert Ondo Ossa as the main candidate (although there is another challenger). The latter was accused the day before the vote by Bongo of “high treason” on the basis of a recording of an alleged conversation in which the opposition candidate would have considered the support of “foreign armies” to take power. Ossa retorts that the recording is a fake, a fabrication orchestrated by the presidential camp.

Source: (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 28/8/2023)

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