Gabon President reassures AFCON amidst violence

Gabon president Ali Bongo has insisted that the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) will go ahead in his crisis-ridden country.

The CAN is due to take place from January 14 to February 5 next year but was thrown into doubt after violence broke out following Bongo’s controversial re-election in August.

“As we speak, there is no reason for this Cup not to take place here,” said Bongo in an interview with state TV channel Gabon Television, which was reproduced on Monday by Union newspaper.

“The stadiums are ready and we’ll have some great matches.”

Bongo was speaking following Saturday’s decision by Gabon’s constitutional court to validate the disputed election results.

Gabon’s opposition claimed Bongo’s victory on August 27 was obtained through vote fraud.

Four days later, violent clashes erupted as demonstrators set parliament ablaze and clashed with police, who made a thousand arrests.

Opposition figures say more than 50 people were killed. The government has given a toll of three dead.

The draw for the CAN tournament is due to take place in the capital Libreville on October 19.

Champions Ivory Coast are among the 16 nations taking part in a tournament originally awarded to Libya before it was switched to Gabon in the wake of violence and instability breaking out in the north African country following the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.