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Gabon in election turmoil

By Claire Rainfroy
Posted on Thursday, 1 September 2016 14:18

Riots broke out after Bongo was announced the winner of a second seven-year term with 49.80% of the votes. Angry protesters set the country’s National Assembly building ablaze.

It’s now up to Jean Ping’s team, if it wants to apply to the Constitutional Court

Opposition candidate Jean Ping rejected the poll result claiming the Election Commission figures were fraudulent. Meanwhile, security forces launched an assault on Ping’s headquarters, leaving at least two people dead, according to the opposition.

Ping, to whom the electoral commission gave 48.23% of the votes, has accused security services of having prevented ambulances from reaching the injured. The assault continued until the early hours of the morning.

Several opposition leaders were arrested yesterday, including Zacharie Myboto, President of l’Union Nationale, his daughter Chantal Myboto and her husband Paul-Marie Gondjout.

“We don’t know where they are being held,” said Jean Pierre Rougou, vice president of l’Union Nationale.

Former Bongo minister Rene Rdemezo’o Obiang was also arrested on Wednesday, according to Jean Gaspard Ntoutoume Ayi, Ping’s campaign director.

On Thursday morning policemen were dismantling opposition barricades around the National Assembly, ahead of an eagerly awaited television appearance by Bongo from the presidential palace due Thursday afternoon.

According to Pierre-Claver Maganga Moussavou, a candidate of the Parti social-démocrate (PSD) it is impossible to predict what will happen next. “In the past we have known these sorts of violent reactions,” he told The Africa Report‘s sister publication Jeune Afrique.

“It’s now up to Jean Ping’s team, if it wants to apply to the Constitutional Court. But that relies on being convinced that the application would count for something,” said Moussavou, alluding to accusations of collusion between the presidency and the Court.

In 2011, when people were contesting the Ivorian presidential election, Ping who was then chair of the African Union Commission, refused a vote recount, saying: “The reopening of electoral results would be a grave injustice and set a dangerous precedent. The AU will not go backwards. People are free to say what they like. Our position is clear.”

The Bongo family have ruled the Central African oil state for almost 50 years.

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