- Title: Anger turns to indifference in Libreville as President Ali Bongo is sworn in
- Date: 27th September 2016
- Summary: WEDDING PHOTOGRAPH ON WALL
- Embargoed: 12th October 2016 16:42
- Keywords: Gabon Ali Bongo president opposition inauguration swearing-in ceremony
- Location: LIBREVILLE, GABON
- City: LIBREVILLE, GABON
- Country: Gabon
- Topics: Government/Politics,Elections/Voting
- Reuters ID: LVA00251CG0UF
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Jean Marie Kenagou, a 68-year-old retired driver, and his wife Marteline watched the swearing in of Gabon President Ali Bongo in Libreville with relief on Tuesday (September 27).
They voted for him and say they regret the violence that exploded immediately after the results were announced, with opposition leader Jean Ping claiming the election was rigged.
The disputed election was bitter but after the Constitutional Court last Friday (September 23) rejected Ping's petition for a recount in Bongo's stronghold province of Haut-Ogooue, the swearing-in ceremony was hastily convened.
Few people in Libreville knew it was due to take place on Tuesday, with the first rumours of it floating late on Monday (September 26).
In his inauguration address, Bongo once again appealed to the opposition and all stakeholders to enter into a dialogue.
"All I can say is that I hope God may change Mr. Ping's heart so he can be at one with his brother because they are from the same family. I cannot see how they can tear each other apart, nothing can be resolved. The problem cannot be resolved through violence nor war. If it was done calmly and he complained then we could sort the problems out calmly," said Marteline.
Fears of violence when the Constitutional Court declined Ping's petition for a recount and ratified the result have not materialised, but Tuesday's inauguration ceremony was kept low-key in an apparent attempt to forestall any possible trouble.
In a Ping stronghold of the city, voters said they felt robbed.
"What we know is that it was not him who was elected and violence will go on. We expect to have a president who has been elected by the people. Democracy comes through the ballot box, it must be respected. If we don't respect the ballot box is that democracy? It's not democracy," said Joseph Awazi, 50 and unemployed.
Other Gabonese expressed indifference to the event, which they considered little more than a formality.
Small flags were raised along boulevards in the city centre but there were no other signs of celebration.
Ping has rejected Friday's court ruling as biased, and the European Union said doubts about the integrity of the process were legitimate.
Speaking from Ping's headquarters, his spokesman Jean Gaspard, accused Bongo of carrying out a coup d'etat.
"Everything that is going on right now is typical of a coup d'etat. Look, when the military take over a country, they do a coup d'etat, do a swearing-in quickly and then call for a national dialogue. This is exactly what is happening here," he said.
At least six people died in clashes between protesters and security forces when the initial results of the August 27 vote were announced.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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