French Prime Minister Valls calls for Gabon presidential recount
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French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has called for a recount of Gabon's presidential election result and called for clarification on the whereabouts of 15 French nationals missing since violent protests against incumbent Ali Bongo was declared the victor with a 6,000-vote majority.
"There needs to be a clear electoral process," Valls told French radio station RTL on Tuesday, "There are arguments and some doubts. European observers in the country have already made criticisms on the basis of objectives. It would be wise to have a recount."
Gabon's Justice Minister Seraphin Moundounga, who is also a deputy prime minister, resigned late Monday, demanding "a recount of the votes, polling station by polling station, and registry by registry".
France had previously joined the European Union and the United States in calling for the results to be published by polling station but had not called for a recount until Valls's statement Tuesday.
The prime minister also repeated a call by Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault to establish the whereabouts of around 15 French nationals, several of them having dual nationality, and ensure the safety of the 15,000 French citizens in Gabon.
Gabon's foreign ministry confirmed that some Franco-Gabonese nationals had been arrested and said the justice ministry was ready to answer questions from families and the French authorities.
But it stressed that binationals are subject to French law.
800 arrests in violent protests
Some 800 people have been arrested in recent days in the capital, with the authorities accusing them of looting, and lawyers say they are being held in "deplorable" conditions.
Three people have been killed and 195 injured, 67 of them from the security forces, according to Gabon's Interior Minister Pacôme Moubelet-Boubeya, although the AFP news agency has counted seven dead, one of them a police officer.
Banks and shops opened in Libreville on Tuesday morning, despite a call from Bongo's rival Jean Ping for a general strike to force "the tyrant" out.
"We cannot accept that our people will be killed like animals without reacting," Ping wrote on Facebook. "We must use all means of resistance to topple this tyrant and believe me, he is on the verge of falling."
An African Union delegation, including heads of state, is ready to be dispatched to Libreville to help calm the situation, AU chairman and Chad President Idriss Deby said.
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