Cape Town - At least 400 Gabonese nationals living in South Africa staged a demonstration at the French Consulate in Cape Town on Thursday over disputed election results back home.
According to official results made public on Wednesday, incumbent President Ali Bongo, 57, won Saturday's presidential poll by just 5 594 votes.He got49.80% of the votes, compared to 48.23% for his rival Jean Ping, a veteran diplomat and former top African Union official.
The protesters held banners, as they sang the national anthem of their country.
They claimed that the ruling party had manipulated votes in favour of Bongo.
Spokesperson for the protesters, Alban Kumb Kumb, told News 24 that there was overwhelming evidence that the ruling party had manipulated votes to ensure that the Bongo family continued their reign over the country.
The Bongos have ruled the West African country formore than fourdecades. Ali Bongo took over from his father, Omar Bongo, in 2009 following his death.
"Very bad things are happening. Ali Bongo is killing citizens right now, with many people having died already. It's ridiculous what is happening in our country because a few days back Jean Ping, the real elected president of our country, was leading by over 65 000 votes, but the government readjusted a lot of numbers.
"We have evidence showing that the population of Haut-Ogooue was changed on Wikipedia five or six times, with President Bongo winning (the region) with over 99% of votes, meaning the whole population is over 18-years-old, which is absolutely ridiculous," Kumb Kumb said.
Watch the video below, as Kumb Kumb speaks to News24.
Reports indicated that the country's electoral commission, Cenap, had fiercely debated a disputed vote result in the Haut-Ogooue province, the heartland of Bongo's ethnic group.
Bongo was said to have won 95.5% of the votes in that province, with a turnoutof 99.9%.
Kumb Kumb added that the aim of the protest march was to raise awareness to what was happening in Gabon.
"People are getting killed for their rights. The Gabonese only want to claim what is right for us, because we participated in the election, we voted and we elected our president, Jean Ping.
"As we speak his headquarters is under attack, with over 10 people already killed, while the government has shut down internet access and TV stations to make sure the violence is not broadcast," he added.
Violence broke out in the capital Libreville on Wednesday after security forces stormed the opposition's headquarters. Gunfire was heard across the city as plumes of smoke billowed from the torched parliament building as anti-government protesters clashed with heavily armed security forces. At leastsix people were injured. Several others were said to have been killed.
The opposition described the election as fraudulent and called for voting results from each of Gabon's polling stations to be made public to ensure the credibility of overall outcome, a demand echoed by the United States and European Union.
"This will help give the people of Gabon, as well as the international community, confidence the announced vote tallies are accurate," US State Department spokesperson John Kirby said.
Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for calm and has expressed concern over the clashes and reports of arson. He urged political leaders "to address their differences peacefully and to address any disputes they may have through existing constitutional and legal channels", the UN said in a statement.