Leading Gabonese opposition figure dies, supporters riot

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LIBREVILLE Opposition in Gabon rampaged through the streets of the capital, burning cars and setting fire to the embassy of Benin, following the death on Sunday of a senior opposition leader, a Reuters witness said.

Andre Mba Obame died in Yaounde, capital of neighbouring Cameroon, at around noon (1100 GMT), his National Union party announced. He was 57 years .

Mba Obame served as an adviser to longtime President Omar Bongo, eventually rising to the post of minister of the interior. However, he broke with the ruling party to run for the presidency as an independent following Bongo’s death in 2009.

Though handed victory to the leader’s son, Ali Bongo, Mba Obame declared himself the winner, leading the authorities to accuse him of treason.

No cause of death was given in the from the National Union, which Mba Obame joined not long after the 2009 election.

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A Reuters witness who followed a group of supporters as they burned government service cars and attacked Benin’s embassy, said many accused the government of murdering Mba Obame.

“Our leader, Andre Mba Obame, was poisoned by the regime and one thing is sure, we will avenge his death,” said Olgan Ebanega, a youth member of the National Union.

The embassy was gutted by the fire, the witness said.