Gabonese opposition calls for general strike Jean Ping also asks followers to refrain from post-election violence

Jean Ping

Jean Ping

LIBREVILLE, Gabon (AA) – The Gabonese opposition leader has urged his supporters to go on a general strike to protest the regime of President Ali Bongo who won last month’s presidential election.

In a statement released on Monday, Jean Ping said: “In order to preserve human lives, I ask you from now to not use violence but to resist by blocking the country’s economy. I suggest you stop work and start a great general strike […] since [President] Ali Bongo wants to kill the Gabonese, I declare Gabon a dead country. We will not participate in the economy in favor of this tyrant.”

Ping had earlier said that dozens of people had been killed, hundreds, if not thousands, injured people were recorded and thousands of others arrested.

The international community had shown concern about the escalation of violence in Gabon following the announcement of Bongo’s re-election last week.

President Ali Ben Bongo of Gabon

President Ali Ben Bongo of Gabon

The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon “urged Ali Bongo Ondimba, President of Gabon, and Jean Ping, presidential candidate of the Démocratie Nouvelle party, to help end violence that ensued the recent, closely-contested presidential election in the African country,” according to a statement released on Sunday.

“The Secretary-General deplored the loss of life during the demonstrations in the aftermath of the presidential election, and expressed concern about the continuing inflammatory messages being disseminated, calling for an immediate end to all acts of violence in the country,” the statement added.

Violence broke out in the tiny Central African state last week after the Electoral Commission announced that President Bongo had defeated Ping — former head of the African Union Commission — with 49.85 percent of the vote against 48.16 percent.

Opposition supporters rejected the result, alleging irregularities in voter turnout. Ping’s team called for a recount.

Ping called the result an “electoral coup” and accused Bongo of “massive fraud” in the province of Haut-Ogooue, a Bongo stronghold which saw an nearly 100 percent turnout amid considerably lower totals elsewhere in the country.

Gabon also experienced a deadly post-electoral violence in 2009 after Bongo succeed his father, Omar Bongo who had ruled the country for 42 years.

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