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Gabon's parliament set ablaze after Bongo's win

Bongo (L), who won Saturday's presidential poll against rival Jean Ping by a narrow margin. Photograph: (Getty)

Libreville, Estuaire, Gabon Aug 31, 2016, 10.31 PM (IST)
Gabon's parliament was set ablaze by angry protesters after President Ali Bongo was re-elected in what he claimed to be a "peaceful and transparent election". 

Libreville's streets erupted in fury as thousands faced the heavily-armed security forces and some of them vandalised a shopping center and looted a bank, according to AP. 

"The whole building is catching fire," a man outside parliament told AFP.

Bongo won Saturday's presidential poll by just 5,594 votes, taking 49.80 per cent to 48.23 per cent for his rival Jean Ping, a veteran diplomat and former top African Union official. 

"Jean Ping president!", "They stole the election", "Ali must go" echoed through city's slums as helicopters flew overhead and smoke rose above poorer neighbourhoods. 

Bongo's term has extended to another seven years. Opposition members of the Central African oil producer's electoral commission have rejected the election results and have vowed to fight for a recount. 

"It's going to be difficult to get people to accept these results," one member of the electoral commission confided to AFP.

"We've never seen results like these, even during the father`s time," he added. 

Ali Bongo was first elected in 2009 after the death of his father, Omar Bongo, who ran Gabon for 42 years. 

The credibility of the elections is being widely questioned. France's foreign ministry said the manner in which the final results were announced was a great source of concern. 

"We think it is necessary to publish the results of all the polling stations. The credibility of the election as well as Gabon's international reputation are at stake," it said.

A similar sentiment was expressed by the US Department of State which called upon Gabon's security forces to exercise restraint. 

One third of Gabon's population lives in poverty, despite the country boasting one of Africa's highest per capita incomes at $8,300 (7,400 euros) thanks to pumping 200,000 barrels of oil a day. Economic troubles have largely been driven by budget cuts in Africa's wealthiest nation. 

(WION with inputs from agencies)
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