Gabon Blocks Internet Access and Implements Curfew Amid Election Disputes

news 30-Aug-2023 Africa

Gabon Implements Internet Shutdown and Enforces Curfew Amid Election Disputes

Hundreds of thousands of Gabonese citizens were called upon to participate in the election of a new parliament and president. However, the opposition accused the government of election manipulation, leading to the blocking of the internet and the imposition of a curfew.

In Gabon, the parliamentary and presidential elections took place, with nearly 850,000 people being called to vote in this central African country.

Observers anticipated another victory for President Ali Bongo Ondimba and his ruling party, PDG. However, his challenger, Albert Ondo Ossa, accused the presidential camp of orchestrating fraud in the afternoon. Ondo Ossa spoke out against this alleged malpractice during a livestream on Facebook after casting his vote.

According to Ondo Ossa's communication advisor, his voting process was delayed for hours due to the late delivery of election materials, as claimed by his political party. Ondo Ossa stated, "Ali Bongo and his cronies have multiplied the elements of fraud."

The chairman of the opposition coalition Alternance 2023, François Ndong Obiang, informed the AFP news agency that numerous polling stations in the country were either delayed in opening or not opened at all. Additionally, many offices lacked ballots with Ondo Ossa's name.

Citing the potential for online disinformation, the Gabonese government decided to block access to the internet indefinitely. A nightly curfew was also imposed from Sunday onward to prevent any misconduct and ensure the safety of the entire population, as announced in a statement read on national television, reported by Reuters.

Observers had previously accused Bongo of election manipulation during the 2016 election, which led to severe unrest.

The current president, now 64 years old, took office in 2009, succeeding his father who ruled the country since 1967. The Bongo clan has been in power in this West African country for a total of 55 years. Despite the nation's oil wealth, a significant portion of its approximately 2.3 million inhabitants live in poverty.

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