Gabon's announcement of President Ali Bongo's re-election has sparked violent protests across the country. Opposition leader Jean Ping tells DW the violence has led to many casualties.
There is fighting and dead bodies everywhere. We don't know how many have died, but the number is high. We can say for certain that our headquarters were attacked starting at 1 a.m. today. A helicopter from the presidential guard bombed it, then the building was stormed on the ground by the guard, the police and mercenaries. They came in and destroyed absolutely everything. The entire building has been destroyed. They took everything with them and arrested anyone they found inside. Two people were killed in the headquarters and multiple other people injured. Corpses are lying all over the city.
Most of the cars in the courtyard - there were more than ten - have been destroyed. How can the president bombard his own people from the air? When Assad does that in Syria, the whole world is up in arms. But when a tyrant fires at his people here with a helicopter, it seems not to interest anyone. Terrible things are happening. This man [Bongo] will end up before the International Criminal Court in the Hague.
What we have been recommending for some time now is also what most Western politicians are calling for: that most of the polling stations be re-counted. Only then can we know the truth, but he [Bongo] does not want that. He has announced only the results he wanted to announce. He called a turnout of 99.93 percent in his home region of Upper-Ogooué. These numbers cannot be right. The average turnout in the rest of the country was 53 percent. These are made up numbers, which he himself has fabricated.
Our supporters have been arrested, killed, pelted with tear gas and incarcerated. We cannot appeal to the dead. What should we tell them? They are dead. In the rest of the city and the country, uprisings are taking place everywhere. These are the Gabonese people. No one is controlling the situation. Nobody. Despite the killing, the people are standing firm, I am told. I am unable to leave where I am, so I could not see it for myself. I am told that things are on fire all over the place.
Jean Ping was President Ali Bongo's challenger in last Saturday's presidential elections. He is the former Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission.