Gabonese opposition parties have denounced the Saturday, July 22, decision by the constitutional court to further delay legislative elections - originally scheduled for December 2016 - until April 2018. The opposition considers the move an illegal extension of legislative terms in violation of the constitution. Demonstrations in reaction to the announcement are likely throughout the country, particularly in Libreville. Individuals should expect an increased security presence and potential clashes between protesters and security personnel if demonstrations do occur.
Political violence is increasing in frequency in Gabon, especially in the capital Libreville. Several homes belonging to members of the political opposition were attacked with Molotov cocktails in the past few months. On June 25, a gang reportedly entered the residence of opposition figure Michel Menga and set fire to his car. Another gang has reportedly burned the cars of a former government minister, Paul Malékou. Furthermore, opposition politician (and former presidential candidate) Roland Désiré Aba'a Minko was arrested in Libreville on June 16, several hours after armed supporters stormed local television stations and broadcast a message from Minko issuing an ultimatum for President Ali Bongo Ondimba to step down within 72 hours.
This violence coincides with increasing tensions among the Gabonese diaspora in the United States and in France. President Ali Bongo and his entourage were the targeted by acts of harassment during travel in Europe and the US in the past weeks. Many members of the Gabonese diaspora still do not accept the re-election of Ali Bongo as legitimate and have vowed to "humiliate" him. Both the government and the opposition blame each other for high political tensions and the prevailing violent national climate.
All those present in Gabon are advised to closely monitor developments to the situation and avoid all public gatherings due to the risk of violence, which can flare up with little warning.
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