Gabon Implements Internet Cut and Curfew as Presidential Election Ends
Gabon, a small country in Central Africa, recently experienced heightened tension and unrest as the presidential election came to an end. In response to the situation, the government decided to cut internet access and impose a nightly curfew to maintain control and counter the spread of violence and false information.
The election saw incumbent President Ali Bongo Ondimba facing off against opposition leader Albert Ondo Ossa. Ossa, who denounced “fraud” in his battle against Bongo, called on the president to step down shortly after casting his vote, citing concerns for his own security. Ossa, the joint candidate of the opposition grouping Alternance 2023, also appealed to the international community for support.
The election was marred by various controversies that raised doubts about its credibility. Opposition parties accused the Bongo government of deliberately creating a disorganized election, with Ossa’s team reporting delays in polling stations and missing ballots at some stations. Adding to the discontent, there were no election observers present during the process.
Compounding the concerns were changes to voting rules at the last minute, which opposition parties criticized as being favorable to the ruling party and against Ondo Ossa. The controversial conversation controversy that spread on social media, involving Ondo Ossa and another opposition figure discussing strategies to create a power struggle and gain support from other countries, further fueled tensions.
The media’s coverage of the election also came under scrutiny, as the French channels France 24, Radio France Internationale (RFI), and TV5Monde were banned from the airwaves. The country’s broadcasting authority, the HAC, accused them of lacking objectivity and balance in their coverage.
Ali Bongo Ondimba, seeking his third term as president, faced numerous challenges throughout his campaign. He struggled to escape the shadow of his father, faced allegations of election fixing in his narrow 2016 re-election, and had to address concerns about his health following a stroke in 2018. These factors added to the tense atmosphere surrounding the election.
As Gabon navigates the aftermath of the election, it remains to be seen how the situation will unfold. The people of Gabon await the official results and hope for a peaceful resolution to the political turmoil.
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