Banging pots, facing tear gas, Gabon citizens protest at COVID restrictions


Residents of Gabon’s two major cities took to the streets banging pots and pans for second night on Thursday, in defiance of coronavirus curfew measures, to protest against government restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19.Gabon

Security forces fired tear gas and stun grenades in some neighbourhoods in the capital Libreville and Port Gentil to disperse protesters who had set up barricades, burning tyres and debris.

Gabon restricted travel in and out the capital city, and expanded curfew hours to limit travel and slow the spread of coronavirus infections last week.

Among the measures that sparked the protests was the decision to extend a nationwide curfew, starting two hours earlier at 6 pm (17:00 GMT) until 6 am.

“The new 6 pm measure is harsh and thoughtless,” law student Sarah Lewoubi, said on Friday.

She added that most Gabonese workers and students, who don’t have cars, struggle to get home before the curfew hour.

“Work ends at 4 pm and it is impossible to reach our homes for most part before 8 pm because of traffic jams and others hassles. So the government must review this matter,” Lewoubi.

A spokesman for the government was not immediately available to comment. Gabon has reported 13 107 coronavirus infections, and 75 coronavirus-related deaths since the pandemic began.

The central African nation is witnessing a second wave of infections and is reporting 133 new infections on average each day.