#COVID19: Controversy After 2 Die In Gabon Vaccination Protests

Two people have died in an anti-COVID-19 vaccination protest in Gabon, stirring up emotions in the country.

Gabon’s political atmosphere is currently tense following the killing of two persons taking part in the anti-COVID-19 vaccine demonstrations that were launched Wednesday, Feb. 17.

The two persons —one identified as Gildas Iloko— were gunned down in front of the Immeuble Beyrouth in Libreville, the capital, by hooded individuals who emerged from a Toyota Land Cruiser.

The two deceased participated in demonstrations under the auspices of what has been dubbed “The Dish Revolution” to protest against the Russian Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccines that the Gabonese government has ordered from Russia.

The controversy that has raised tensions in the country surrounds the identity of the hooded individuals who killed the two demonstrators on Feb. 17 night.

The State Prosecutor’s office in Libreville has announced that an investigation has been opened to determine the killers’ identity. The general opinion fanned by opposition parties places the blame on state security operatives accused of being trigger happy.

A video showing the shooting has gone viral on social media, but the government insists the perpetrators of the crime were not members of the security forces.

The government also maintained that the video is the handiwork of political manipulators intended to tarnish President Ali Bongo Ondimba government’s image.

However, semiologists who have analysed the video affirmed that it was shot in front of the Immeuble Beyrouth, where the two individuals were killed.

“That video is real. The neighbourhood captured in the video is the PK6 area where the Immeuble Beyrouth is located. The video could not possibly have been shot elsewhere as the government wants public opinion to believe,” declared a civil society activist who gave his name to HumAngle in Libreville as Augustin Bayeme.

Some youths who were on the spot when the shooting took place revealed that the Toyota vehicle occupants had opened fire on the protesters even before the car stopped.

“Some protesters were wounded by the gunfire before the car stopped. The two persons killed were shot at after the car stopped and the individuals got out of the vehicle,” one of the youths revealed.

“It is common knowledge in this country that security officials out on dirty assignments always hide their faces by wearing balaclava masks so anybody who wants to discredit the government can use the same disguise and kill somebody knowing that public opinion would point the accusing finger at government,” an official in the public prosecutor’s office in Libreville hinted.

In the meantime, Biendi-Maganga Moussavou, the Minister of Agriculture, on Sunday visited the shooting site and observed a minute’s silence in memory of the slain protesters.

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Chief Bisong Etahoben

Chief Bisong Etahoben is a Cameroonian investigative journalist and traditional ruler. He writes for international media and has participated in several transnational investigations. Etahoben won the first-ever Cameroon Investigative Journalist Award in 1992. He serves as a member of a number of international investigative journalism professional bodies including the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR). He is HumAngle's Francophone and Central Africa editor.

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