Gabon’s Bongo hits back at EU over poll ‘anom­alies’

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

GABONESE Pres­i­dent Ali Bongo has de­nied EU ob­servers’ calls for a re­count of last week’s dis­puted pres­i­den­tial vote, say­ing it was a mat­ter for the coun­try’s top court to de­cide.

On Tues­day, an EU mis­sion ob­serv­ing the Au­gust 27 polls re­ported a “clear anom­aly” in vot­ing in Haut-Ogooue prov­ince, Bongo’s heart­land.

Of­fi­cial re­sults gave turnout in the prov­ince at more than 99 per­cent, with 95 per­cent back­ing the in­cum­bent against ri­val Jean Ping.

“I would also have liked them to have noted some anom­alies in the fief­dom of Mr Ping. If we are rais­ing anom­alies, we have to be clear, bal­anced and raise all the anom­alies that have been noted,” Bongo told France’s RTL ra­dio, in an in­ter­view broad­cast on Wed­nes­day.

“What peo­ple should be ask­ing me to do is ap­ply the law. I can­not vi­o­late the law. As far as a re­count is con­cerned ... that’s done at the level of the Con­sti­tu­tional Court.”

Bongo, whose fam­ily has ruled Gabon for nearly half a cen­tury, won a sec­ond term by a slen­der mar­gin of fewer than 6 000 votes over Ping.

The op­po­si­tion leader, how­ever, says that the elec­tion was a sham and has de­manded a re­count — a call echoed by Manuel Valls, prime min­is­ter of Gabon’s for­mer colo­nial power, France.

Post-elec­tion clashes be­tween his sup­port­ers and se­cu­rity forces have re­sulted in the deaths of be­tween 50 and 100 peo­ple, Ping said on Tues­day. The gov­ern­ment’s of­fi­cial ca­su­alty count stands at just three dead.

The par­lia­ment in the cap­i­tal, Libreville, was also torched in protests over the re­sult.

Ping, a 72-year-old for­mer African Union Com­mis­sion chair­man, had an­nounced whether he would chal­lenge the elec­tion re­sult in the Con­sti­tu­tional Court.

The dead­line for do­ing so was 15:00 GMT yes­ter­day.

In their anal­y­sis, the EU elec­tion mon­i­tors said the num­ber of non-vot­ers and of blank and dis­qual­i­fied votes re­vealed a “clear anom­aly in the fi­nal re­sults in Haut-Ogooue”. — AFP

Ali Bongo

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