#COVID19: Protest Erupts In Gabon Against New Measures

Citizens in Gabon have started protesting against the government’s new COVID-19 policy by hitting utensils at night.

On Wednesday night, large crowds started demonstrations in Gabon capital, Libreville, and Port-Gentil against the new anti-COVID-19 measures decided by the Gabonese government.

The protest movement dubbed “The Dish Revolution” is expected to last for a week initially and involves the “drumming of dishes every evening from 8:00 p.m. to 8:05 p.m. to disturb the peace until something is done”, one of the leaders who pleaded for anonymity told HumAngle on the phone Thursday morning.

The protesters said the new anti-COVID-19 measures, which include the closure of the country’s frontiers with neighbouring countries and night curfews, were suicidal.

Participants in the protests have been advised to each night from 8:00 p.m. to 8:05 p.m. take out their dishes and hit or make noise with them shouting “No to corona! No to the curfew,” HumAngle learnt.

During the first protests last night, people could be seen standing on balconies of buildings and verandas holding and hitting pots, plastic bottles, dishes and even doors, shouting against the new anti-COVID-19 measures, a source told our reporter.

In the national capital Libreville, demonstrations took place in Kinguele, Nkembo, Derriere-la-Prison, Nombakele, Nzeng-Ayong, Alibandeng, Atsibe-Ntsos and even in the police barracks.

Though protest organisers had told participants to limit protests to the frontages of their houses and not to invade the streets, some protesters, all the same, mobilised to the streets.

Police posted along the streets to ensure curfew compliance could not stop demonstrators who decided to invade the streets from doing so.

“We are not prisoners to be forced to remain at home and not go out after 6 p.m. Is the coronavirus more violent and dangerous in the evening than in the morning or afternoon?” a protester asked some policemen who tried to stop them.

Though Wednesday’s protests took place only in the capital Libreville and Port-Gentil, there are indications that the demonstrations would proliferate to other localities throughout the national territory.

The protests which were supposed to last only for five minutes in most cases lasted for hours in several quarters.

In the Three-Quarters zone, several demonstrators marched to the gendarmerie station of Gros Bouquet eventually forcing security forces to erect barricades on some streets.

“We are suffering while they are feeding fat on money intended for COVID-19 tests. For the past one year that we have been respecting their restrictions, nobody has come to our assistance. Enough is enough. Let them allow us to hustle,”  declared a fifty-year-old man in Alibandeng.

“When we get sick or die in our houses, it is not they who foot our medical bills so let them allow us to take care of our health.”

The protest movement seems to be spreading as taxis, motorbikes and individuals this morning also started blaring their horns in protest.

“The government has to do something immediately before things get out of hand. Revolutions have started in small ways like this and ended up toppling governments. That is how the revolution in Iceland started in 2009 and ended up forcing the government to resign over its disastrous management of the country’s economy,” said a senior official in the ministry of health who declined to disclose his name.

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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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