January 30, 2011 / 8:54 AM / 9 years ago

Police use tear gas to break up Gabon protest

Gabon's President Ali Ben Bongo speaks to the media in the courtyard at the Elysee Palace in Paris November 20, 2009 following a meeting with France's President Nicolas Sarkozy. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

LIBREVILLE (Reuters) - Riot police in Gabon fired tear gas to break up a protest by around 5,000 opposition supporters on Saturday, with witnesses saying that up to 20 people were wounded in the clashes.

It was the second such protest since opposition leader Andre Mba Obame declared himself president on Tuesday and urged Gabonese to take inspiration from Tunisia’s popular uprising that ousted former leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

One policeman was beaten badly in the street clashes in an opposition stronghold of the capital Libreville. Witnesses said that other injuries sustained on either side were minor.

The central African oil exporter has been troubled since a 2009 election won by Ali Bongo Odimba, but which the main opposition group says was rigged.

Bongo’s election in 2009 allowed him to take over from his father Omar and led to days of rioting across the country as opponents accused him of vote-rigging.

However he won broad international recognition as the winner and has set about a policy of diversifying the economy.

Final results put Bongo first with 41.79 percent, veteran opposition figure Pierre Mamboundou second with 25.66 percent and Mba Obame third with 25.33 percent.

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