United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged Ali Bongo Ondimba, President of Gabon, and Jean Ping, presidential candidate of the Démocratie Nouvelle party, to help end violence that ensued the recent, closely-contested presidential election in the African country.
Clashes have broken out between protesters and security forces after the 31 August release of official provisional results, which declared President Bongo the winner, reportedly by a margin of less than 6,000 votes. According to media reports, hundreds of people have been arrested and at least two people have been killed.
According to a note issued by the office of Mr. Ban's spokesman, the Secretary-General, who is participating in the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, China, had separate phone calls with each of them today.
The Secretary-General deplored the loss of life during the demonstrations in the aftermath of the presidential election, and expressed concern about the continuing inflammatory messages being disseminated, calling for an immediate end to all acts of violence in the country, the note states.
While welcoming the release of the 27 opposition members who had been denied leaving Mr. Ping's campaign headquarters, Mr. Ban reiterated his call to President Bongo to impress upon the Government the need to show restraint, and urged Mr. Ping to issue a clear message to his followers calling on them to refrain from any acts of violence in the interest of the country and of national unity, the note says.
The Secretary-General stressed the importance of employing exclusively peaceful and legal means to seek redress in all disputes related to the outcome of the presidential election, and has requested his Special Representative for Central Africa, Abdoulaye Bathily, to continuously work with both sides to defuse tensions.
In Hangzhou, the Secretary-General also met with Chad's President Idriss Déby Itno, who is the current Chairperson of the African Union (AU), welcoming the organization's engagement in facilitating a peaceful resolution of the current crisis in Gabon.