Gabon lifts travel ban on opposition leaders
Gabon's opposition leaders, including former African Union chief Jean Ping, are free to travel again, the government said Saturday, nearly a week after banning them from leaving the country.
The interior ministry grounded the politicians, opponents of President Ali Bongo, on Sunday because of "inflammatory comments by Jean Ping" calling for "public disorder, rebellion and insurrection".
But as of Friday evening "public order and internal security" were no longer threatened, the ministry said.
Ping, a 74-year-old career diplomat, was narrowly defeated by incumbent Ali Bongo in Gabon's presidential election last year and accused the administration of electoral fraud.
A number of demonstrations have been held in support of Ping in cities around the country, leading to numerous arrests and clashes with police in the capital and the seaport of Port-Gentil.
On August 18, Ping called on the Gabonese "to rise up as one to solemnly mark (his) rise to power", remarks which prompted the travel ban.
The interior ministry said the "temporary administrative measure" had been aimed at leaders of political parties and others at the heart of the Coalition for the New Republic (CNR), which supports Ping.
Former prime minister Casimir Oye Mba and Albert Ondo Ossa, a former presidential candidate, both said they had been prevented from boarding flights out of Gabon during the ban.