Libreville (AFP) - A lawyer for opposition leader Jean Ping thought to have gone missing is hiding in a "friendly" country's embassy, the Gabonese politician said on Tuesday.
Ping's party had said on Sunday that Eric Iga Iga, one of two lawyers who represented Ping in a Constitutional Court challenge to President Ali Bongo's controversial election victory in August, had been missing for three days.
But Ping said Iga Iga, who fled after feeling "in danger", is safe and well.
"Late during the night of Thursday, one of my lawyers, Mr Eric Iga Iga, received a visit from elements presenting themselves as belonging to the defence and security services -- more specifically the military police -- in the most completely illegal way," Ping said in a statement.
"Feeling in danger, Mr Iga Iga chose to hide by going to look for protection from the embassy of a big, friendly country which was happy to host him until now."
Ping's spokesman, Jean-Gaspard Ntoutoume Ayi told AFP that Iga Iga remains in the embassy, but declined to reveal which country was hosting the lawyer.
"Mr Iga Iga has deliberately chosen to break the silence to allow this embassy to let his family know where he is," added Ping's statement, which thanked the embassy for offering his lawyer protection.
"I ask all those around me in this battle to remain vigilant," warned Ping.
Ping has been calling himself the president-elect of Gabon since contesting the official results of the August 27 election that gave Bongo victory.
He called for a recount but that was rejected by Gabon's top court.
On Monday, EU observers questioned the "integrity" of the election results noting the barely credible official figures from Bongo's Haut-Ogooue heartland.
He took 95 percent of the vote there from a 99 percent turnout, compared to a 54.24 percent turnout across the rest of the country.
Bongo, whose family has ruled the tiny oil-rich nation since 1967, won the election by a tiny 6,000 votes.
The election result sparked two days of rioting and protests in which the government said three people died, while the opposition claimed the true toll was 26.
More than 800 people were arrested following the disorder.Read more