AU plans to send ob­servers to Gabon elec­tion ap­peal

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Opinion/worldwide -

LIBREVILLE — The African Union says it plans to send ob­servers to help Gabon’s Con­sti­tu­tional Court with a le­gal com­plaint lodged by op­po­si­tion leader Jean Ping, who ac­cuses Pres­i­dent Ali Bongo of cheat­ing to se­cure vic­tory in an elec­tion last month.

The dis­pute has led to ri­ots that killed at least six peo­ple and brought un­wel­come in­ter­na­tional scru­tiny for Bongo, whose fam­ily has ruled the cen­tral African Opec mem­ber for nearly 50 years.

Ping, who of­fi­cially lost by fewer than 6 000 votes, last week ap­plied to the court to au­tho­rise a re­count in the Haut-Ogooue prov­ince, Bongo’s strong­hold, where the pres­i­dent won 95 per­cent of the votes on a 99.9 per­cent turnout.

The Peace and Se­cu­rity Coun­cil of the African Union re­quested that its ex­ec­u­tive branch de­ploy ob­servers from other French-speak­ing African coun­tries “to as­sist the Con­sti­tu­tional Court of Gabon”, it said in a state­ment late on Tues­day.

The Euro­pean Union, which sent an of­fi­cial ob­ser­va­tion team to the elec­tion and has cited anom­alies in the poll re­sults from Haut-Ogooue prov­ince, will main­tain ob­servers in the coun­try.

It was not clear what level of ac­cess ob­servers would have to the in­ter­nal de­lib­er­a­tions of the court, which is due to de­cide on the re­count by Septem­ber 23.

Ping says he has no faith in the ju­di­cial body be­cause of its ties to the Bongo fam­ily. The head of the court, Marie-Madeleine Mb­o­rantsuo, was the long-time mis­tress of Ali Bongo’s fa­ther Omar Bongo, who ruled for 41 years.

Ali Bongo’s op­po­nents com­plained to the court af­ter he won his first term in 2009, and the court up­held his vic­tory fol­low­ing a re­count.

The gov­ern­ment has stressed that the court is neu­tral and also ac­cused Ping’s sup­port­ers of ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in the polls.

Gabon’s former colo­nial ruler France, which has a mil­i­tary base in the coun­try and a large stake in the oil sec­tor via ma­jor To­tal, has urged the court to ex­am­ine the op­po­si­tion’s com­plaint trans­par­ently and im­par­tially.

It has ruled out in­ter­ven­ing mil­i­tar­ily in the dis­pute, as it has done pre­vi­ously in parts of Africa. — AFP

Su­per Ty­phoon Mer­anti has made land­fall in south­east­ern China, bring­ing strong winds and rain in what state me­dia has called the strong­est storm of the year glob­ally. The ty­phoon ar­rived in the early hours of yes­ter­day near the ma­jor city of Xi­a­men af­ter sweep­ing through south­ern Tai­wan on Wed­nes­day and killing one per­son. Pic­tures on state me­dia showed flooded streets in some parts of the prov­ince of Fu­jian, where Xi­a­men is lo­cated, fallen trees and crushed cars. Xin­hua news agency said it was the strong­est ty­phoon to hit that part of the coun­try since the found­ing of Com­mu­nist China in 1949 and the strong­est so far this year any where in the world. — Al Jazeera

Jean Ping

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