Gabon: Government offices closed as disputed election sparks violence
Violent protests erupted in Gabon late Wednesday after election officials declared that Ali Bongo Ondimba had narrowly been re-elected president in a disputed election. Protesters set the parliament building on fire. Government offices remained closed Thursday and there was no indication of when they might reopen.
What does the change mean? Foreign nationals in Gabon should take personal care and observe security measures. Anyone in need of immigration services should brace for significant delays in application processing.
- Implementation time frame: Immediate and ongoing.
- Visas/permits affected: All visas, permits and other government services.
- Who is affected: Companies and foreign employees seeking government services.
- Impact on processing times: Processing is likely to take significantly longer than usual.
- Business impact: Businesses may have to rearrange travel schedules or start dates.
- Next steps: BAL will continue to monitor events in Gabon and provide updates as needed.
Background: Gabon’s presidential election was held Saturday, with President Bongo standing for a second seven-year team. Alleging electoral fraud, the main opposition candidate and ex-head of the African Union Commission, Jean Ping, initially claimed victory. However, Bongo, whose family has governed Gabon for nearly 50 years, was declared the winner by a thin margin of 5,594 votes late Wednesday.
Protestors clashed with security forces in Libreville, the capital, late Wednesday and into Thursday morning. The parliament building was set on fire, and numerous media outlets reported that some demonstrators had been killed. The U.S. Embassy urged U.S. nationals in Gabon to avoid “unnecessary travel and remain at or close to home until security conditions have stabilized.”
BAL Analysis: Foreign nationals should follow security measures and avoid unnecessary travel. Those with urgent travel needs in Gabon should prepare for the possibility of increased police checks and carry required documentation. Businesses and foreign nationals should also be prepared for significant delays in immigration application processing and other government services.
This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Gabon. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.
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Founded in 1980, Berry Appleman & Leiden (BAL) provides comprehensive global immigration services from seven offices across the U.S. and from offices in Geneva, London, Melbourne, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Shanghai, Singapore and Sydney. BAL manages global visa matters and customized application approaches for work permits, business visas, and residence permits in more than 100 countries. With a single cost center for worldwide operations, BAL offers centralized management with regional and local support for the complete spectrum of global immigration matters.