Pierre Aubameyang denied ten-man Switzerland an opening Group B victory as Gabon claimed a hard-fought point.
St Etienne striker Aubameyang cancelled out Admir Mehmedi’s twice-taken penalty with a neat finish as the half-time whistle approached.
Switzerland could hardly have got off to a better start after the lively Innocent Emeghara was felled by defender Henri Ndong inside the box and Colombian referee Wilmar Roldan pointed to the spot.
Mehmedi sent keeper Didier Ovono the wrong way, only to see Mr Roldan order the kick to be retaken because of encroachment. And although the Dynamo Kiev man changed sides the result was the same.