Libreville - Gabon's justice minister resigned Monday over the government's refusal to recount controversial ballots that saw violent protests and allegations of fraud after the president was re-elected by a slim margin.
Justice Minister Seraphin Moundounga said he made the decision in the face of the government of President Ali Bongo Ondimba's "stubborn refusal" to recount the vote.
"I invite the president of the republic to make the wise decision to avoid the useless suffering of the people," by recounting the votes and making public the ballot counts for each bureau, he said on a private television station.
Internet has been cut since August 31, and returned only for brief periods of time Monday.
The move came the same day the opposition party called for a general strike, though some returned to work.
Gabon's top opposition candidate Jean Ping declared Friday that he was the rightful winner of the presidential election, calling the results for the August 27 vote fraudulent. He also called for the release of results from individual polling stations.
Election commission results showed Bongo won by only 1.57% points, extending a family dynasty that stretches back to the 1960s.
Clashes quickly broke out after results were announced last week. Opposition supporters demonstrated, looting and burning buildings.
More than 1 000 people were detained, and the government has reported at least three deaths, though residents have said there are likely more.
The African Union has offered to help both sides find a solution quickly.
France's foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said it supports the AU's proposal.
He also said the country's authorities have not heard from several French citizens in Gabon in the last few days, adding that the country is concerned.
Gabon's vote was criticized by European Union observers for lacking transparency, and countries including the US and France called on the government to publish results by polling stations.