Protesting against the health measures imposed by the government, Gabonese people bang in pots every evening. A movement that is gradually becoming politicized.
It all started with a social media call. The “Free Citizens” collective launched an idea that was noisy to say the least: in the evenings, at 20 pm, the Gabonese are invited to bang on pots and pans. At the origin of the movement, the objective of protesting against the government measures taken to respond to the coronavirus.
But for several days now, we have been talking about the “casserole revolution”. Because from simple protest against health measures, the movement has become political. After a rather calm start, the noises of the saucepans grew louder. What annoy the regime in place which decided to crack down.
George Mpaga, who heads a coalition of NGOs, deplores the police response which is said to have left several dead. A " blind and bloody repression ", according to Alexandre Barro Chambrier, former minister who became the spearhead of the opposition.
Clashes between demonstrators and police
Barricades have sprung up in the streets and demonstrators continue to denounce the government's measures: a curfew from 18 p.m., the compulsory closure of shops in the middle of the afternoon or the obligation for some employees to pay themselves. Covid-19 tests at golden prices… The Gabonese people have the impression of being taken hostage.
But if in Libreville, clashes between demonstrators and the police took place, killing several people, it is also because the movement is more global: the activists believe that they have not been governed properly since the hospitalization of the President of the Republic, they are calling for changes. Everyone is worried that the economy will collapse.
It did not take less to make the palace react. The spokesperson for the Presidency of the Republic, Jessye Ella Ekogha, believes that demonstrators are trying "to recover and instrumentalize this movement by politicizing it when it is an apolitical movement". And the spokesperson to defend the police, believing that the young Gabonese were "pushed to the fault, to violate the curfew, to commit damage, to loot, to attack the police. many of whom were injured on this occasion ”
Under the guise of authorizing the movement of the pots, Gabon remains critical: “The movement of the pots is the will for a part of the population to democratically express a criticism vis-à-vis the measures taken by the government. We totally accept it, ”admits the spokesperson for the presidency, who continues to try to contain the discontent. Because if it continues, this movement could quickly become, as some demonstrators hope, the beginning of a "revolution of the pots".