Gabon reinforced security near public buildings on Friday after a former presidential candidate gave President Ali Bongo an ultimatum to step down and threatened to blow up government property should the nation’s leader refuse to go within three days.
In a statement read in the capital, Libreville, on Friday, Roland Desire Aba’a Minko asked Bongo to relinquish power and said that Jean Ping, who lost to Bongo in last year’s disputed presidential vote, was the country’s true leader. Aba’a Minko stood as an independent candidate in the vote before withdrawing his candidacy in support of Ping.
Violence won’t benefit anyone and the government is open to dialogue, Jean Boniface Assele, leader of a party allied with Bongo, said by phone. Government spokesman Bilie By-Nze didn’t answer calls seeking comment.
Earlier this month, Ping called on the international community to mediate in the country’s political crisis. Bongo reached an agreement with some opposition groups last month to form a unity government but Ping and his supporters didn’t take part in the talks. The government has rejected calls for a second round of negotiations.