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Benin demands answers after embassy torched in Gabon


benin mapBenin demanded Monday an “official explanation” of the torching of its embassy in Gabon during unrest that broke out after the announcement that a senior Gabonese opposition leader had died.

Opposition supporters rampaged through Gabon’s capital Libreville on Sunday, setting fire to cars and buildings, including Benin’s embassy as word spread of the death of Andre Mba Obame, a longtime Gabonese opposition figure.

Obame, 57, had suffered from serious health problems that had all but stopped the charismatic figure from appearing in public for the past three years. However, some protesters accused Gabon’s government of casting “spells” on Mba Obame, who died Sunday.

It was not immediately clear why Benin’s embassy was targeted during unrest.

The Gabonese opposition is highly critical of Benin native Maixent Accrombessi, who is the chief of staff of Gabon’s president.

In a statement, Benin said the fire was “an unacceptable act and of a rare seriousness in a relationship between nations.”

“The safety of diplomatic missions and the protection of their personnel are the responsibility of the receiving government,” the statement said.

Benin demanded “an official explanation from the Gabonese government.”

Benin’s government called on all its citizens living in Gabon to “take shelter from the acts of vandalism and violence orchestrated by uncontrolled groups of protesters.”

Mba Obame left Gabon in 2011 after declaring himself elected head of state, refusing to recognise the 2009 election victory of President Ali Bongo Ondimba.

Once close to Ali Bongo’s father Omar Bongo Ondimba, Mba Obame switched sides after the older Bongo’s death in 2009 after 42 years in power and formed the opposition to the late president’s son

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