Gabon Cuts Off Internet, Imposes Curfew After Presidential Elections

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Gabon indefinitely suspended internet access and also imposed a curfew until Sunday morning following the presidential elections on Saturday.

The moves were taken to “counter the spread of calls for violence … and false information,” Communications minister Rodrigue Mboumba Bissawou said on public television.

Earlier Saturday, voters complained of polls opening much later than announced. In the capital, Libreville, many voting sites hadn’t opened by 2 p.m. Voting was to start in the morning and last for 10 hours, by law, said Paulette Missambo, who withdrew from the presidential race in favour of Albert Ondo Ossa, an independent candidate.

“I’ve finally voted. I have been here since 6 a.m. It was at 12 noon that I was able to vote, because the polling station opened at 11 am,” Ballack Obame, a former student leader, told The Associated Press.

“I’ve never seen an election in Gabon that doesn’t start before 10 o’clock. It’s really sad. I’m going home,” Theophile Obiang, a pensioner leaning on his cane, also told the AP.

On the ballot Saturday were candidates for president, lawmakers and local councils that opposition politicians hope will break the Bongo family’s grip on power for more than five decades. About 847,000 people were eligible to vote.

Incumbent President Ali Bongo is seeking a third term. He has been the leader of the country since 2009. Before that, his father led the oil-rich Central African nation.

“Gabon is not the property of the Bongos,” said Albert Ondo Ossa, one of Bongo’s main rivals in the 14-candidate presidential race.

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