There were violent confrontations between the police and protesters in Libreville, the capital city of Gabon, on Wednesday. The demonstrations were called by the leader of an opposotion political party Union National (UN) headed by André Mba Obame. According to withnesses, several people were injured and ten were arrested. The minister of interior confirmed that the march was illegal as the organizers failed to obtain permission.
The opposition says the protest march was called to to force the government to organize a national conference in order to establish a new constitution and legislative elections. Protesters were called upon to assemble in the centre of town by midday but early in the morning, about 40 protesters heading for the venue were dispersed by the police. Hundreds of others gathered at the party's headquarters were violently dispersed by mid-day. Vehicles were destroyed and dust bins torched during the confrontation. THe deputy executive secretary of the party, Gérard Ella Nguema, told RFI by telephone that the government of President Ali Bongo is illegitimate. He also took a spoke out against the security forces for preventing the gathering.
André Mba Obame returned to the country on Saturday 11 August after a 14-month absence for health reasons. On his return, he insisted that a sovereign national conference is the only way to get the country out of the current crisis without spilling blood. The government on the other hand considered his statements as a call for a national insurrection and civil disobedience - accusing him of trying to destabilise the country.
Obame, a former interior minister, ran for the presidency at the last elections in Gabon. He contested Ali Bongo's victory and proclaimed himself president in 2011. His parliamentary immunity was lifted last year and he is currently being charged with "causing public disorder" - an offence that carries a 2 months to 1-year jail term if he is found guilty.
Translated From French by Michael Tantoh