Gabon justice minister resigns, calls for vote recount

Gabon's justice minister resigned on Monday, in the first high-level defection after days of violence following incumbent Ali Bongo's disputed re-election, as the opposition leader called for a general strike to "topple the tyrant".

Despite Jean Ping's appeal for an economic blockage, the centre of the capital Libreville was its usual bustling self on Monday as France said several of its
dual citizens were "unaccounted for" following clashes and mass arrests.

After being shuttered for days over the post-election violence, banks and shops were re-opened in the seaside city and taxis were returning to the streets.

According to an AFP count, post-election chaos has claimed at least seven lives in the oil-rich central African nation, ruled by the Bongo family since 1967.

Gabonese authorities, however, said Monday the toll was three killed and 105 wounded, with the government saying some deaths had previously been incorrectly attributed to the clashes.

Bongo's rival Ping, a veteran diplomat who has held a top African Union job and served as foreign minister, has vowed to challenge the election results.

"We cannot accept that our people will be killed like animals without reacting," Ping said on Facebook.

"I propose to cease all activity and begin a general strike," he wrote.

"We must use all means of resistance to topple this tyrant and believe me, he is on the verge of falling."

Bongo was declared victorious by a razor-thin margin of just under 6,000 votes, but Ping has insisted the vote was rigged and on Friday claimed victory for himself.

In the first high-level defection since the vote, Justice Minister and second deputy prime minister Seraphin Moundounga on Monday announced his resignation and demanded "a recount of the votes, polling station by polling station, and registry by registry".

Ping too is calling for a recount -- something the Gabonese authorities have so far refused to do. Speculation has mounted that he could launch an appeal for a recount at the Constitutional Court.

Ping's supporters say fraud was rampant, notably in the Bongo fiefdom of Haut-Ogooue in the east.

It is one of the country's nine provinces and turnout there, according to official figures, crossed 99 percent with 95 percent voting for the president.

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