GABON Government Imposes Curfew and Cuts Internet Access As National Elections Wrap Up

Tara Winstead/Pexels

According To African News, Gabon’s government announced a nationwide curfew and cut off internet access Saturday evening as voting in major national elections was wrapping up. The Central African nation’s communications minister, Rodrigue Mboumba Bissawou, said on state television that there would be a nightly curfew from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. He said internet access was being restricted indefinitely, saying there had been calls for violence and the spreading of disinformation. The announcement came after voters cast ballots to elect new local leaders, national legislators and Gabon’s next president.

Incumbent President Ali Bongo Ondimba was seeking a third seven-year term and to continue a 55-year political dynasty. Bongo came to power in 2009 after the death of his father, Omar Bongo, who ruled the country for 41 years. Bongo, 64, won his current term in office by a narrow margin in 2016 amid violent protests. This year, the opposition united in favor of his main challenger, economics professor Albert Ondo Ossa, one week before Saturday’s elections. Around 847,000 people were eligible to cast ballots Saturday. Voters in Libreville, Gabon’s capital, complained of polling stations opening late. Voting was scheduled to begin in the morning, but many election sites had failed to open as of 2 p.m.

“Voters must benefit from the 10-hour period provided for by electoral law,”

Said Paulette Missambo, who withdrew from the presidential race in favor of Ossa, an independent candidate. Ossa’s platform revolves around breaking Gabon out of the status quo. He said that if elected, he would dissolve the National Assembly, redraw the electoral map and organize a new legislative election, with a goal of forming a government committed to addressing economic inequality.

“Sixty years in power is too much. I’m not afraid of President Bongo,”

Ossa said after casting his ballot at a Libreville school on Saturday afternoon. In anticipation of post-electoral violence, many people in the capital went to visit family in other parts of the country or left Gabon altogether. Others stockpiled food or bolstered security in their homes.

#Clique what are your thoughts?

Our biggest stories, straight to your box.

Sign up now to get our essential daily briefs on politics' Environment, Royals and more.

By signing up you agree to our User Agreement and Privacy Policy & Cookies Statement


Editors Picks