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09/12/2016

EU says disputed Gabon vote ‘lacked transparency’

Development Policy

EU says disputed Gabon vote ‘lacked transparency’

Ali Bongo, pictured here in 2012, is fighting for a second term as president of Gabon - a post held for more than 40 years by his father.

[ChathamHouse/Flickr]

The EU has said the weekend presidential election in Gabon – whose final result is still not yet known – “lacked transparency”.

The tiny West African country is in a tense state, as both incumbent President Ali Bongo and rival Jean Ping claimed victory.

The disputed vote count – so far – shows Bongo just 5,000 votes ahead of Ping.

A result was due yesterday, but that has now been delayed until late Wednesday (31 August).

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Bongo, who took over from his late father in 2009 amid violence which saw the French consulate torched, is running for a second term.

The Gabon electoral commission is due to meet late tonight to announce the result, in meeting EU observers are barred from.

The EU observers said the vote was “managed in a way that lacked transparency”.

“The European Union repeats the call made by the head of its observer mission that results should be published for each polling booth,” a spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement.

Since Tuesday (30 August), the commission has fiercely debated a disputed vote result in one of the country’s nine provinces — the Haut-Ogooue, the heartland of Bongo’s Teke ethnic group.

A report claimed Bongo had won 95.5 percent of votes in the province, with turnout there at 99.9 percent.

Should the report’s findings be accepted as official, the incumbent would be able to claim 49.9% of votes nationwide, narrowly defeating Ping’s 48.2%.

In other words, Bongo would win by a tiny margin of just 5,594 votes.

Just under 628,000 people were registered to vote in the oil-rich Central African nation, home to 1.8 million people.

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Meanwhile, on Tuesday anti-riot police took position around the capital Libreville and later established checkpoints in various parts of the capital, blocking access to the presidential palace.

Light armoured vehicles also began to patrol along the Atlantic coast.

Many in the oil-rich nation fear a repeat of violence that followed the 2009 election after Saturday’s vote that both Bongo and Ping claimed to have won.

“They need to ensure transparency and impartiality in publishing the results, which we are waiting for,” said a spokesman for the French foreign ministry on Wednesday.

“Only in this way can the credibility of the results be guaranteed,” the ministry added.

Gabon is a former French colony that exports oil and tropical hardwoods.