Students protest over increasing fees at public universities and colleges

On 13th September 2017, Prime Minister Emmanuel Issoze Ngondet stated that the Gabonese government is considering an amnesty law for people involved in the post-election violence following the presidential elections held in August 2016. On 31st August 2016, authorities announced the reelection of President Ali Bongo with 49.80 percent of the votes, while opposition candidate Jean Ping received 48.23 percent of the vote. Ping claimed the results were rigged and challenged the results in one of the provinces. Protests, violence, looting and violent clashes erupted after the announcement of the election results. Approximately 1,000 people were arrested in less than 24 hours of the announcement. The opposition claims that more than 50 people lost their lives during post-election clashes between security forces and protesters, while official numbers claim only three deaths. In October, the EU delegation in Gabon reiterated its request for an independent investigation into the post-election violence in August and September 2016. 

Peaceful Assembly

On 24th October, security forces used tear gas to disperse a protest by students from the University of Health Sciences in Owendo, which resulted in several injuries. According to Ephrem Okouboungou, a spokesperson of the student movement who spoke to AFP, there were "exchanges of blows, broken windshields, injuries, arrests, but in the end everyone was released". The students started protesting on 23rd October over increasing enrollment and tuition fees in public universities and colleges. On 23rd October, police trucks were also stationed at the University Omar Bongo in Libreville, should any protests erupt there. 

Previously in June 2017, an order from the Minister of Higher Education, Denise Mekam’ne Edzidzi, was made public, which increased the university fees from 9,000 francs CFA to 50,000 francs CFA (from approximately 16 to 89 USD). In response to student-led protests at the time, the order was annulled in September by the new Minister of Higher Education, Guy Bertrand Mapangou, who proposed a fee of 35,000 francs CFA (62 USD).