Gabon election: Justice Minister quits over disputed result

Posted September 07, 2016

European observers in Gabon said Tuesday they were certain there had been an "anomaly" in the disputed election that handed incumbent Ali Bongo victory by a wafer-thin margin.

Mr Ping won in six out of nine provinces but disputes the result in Mr Bongo's home province of Haut-Ogooue, where turnout was 99.93 per cent and 95 per cent of votes were for the president.

In 2009, Bongo was declared victor of the presidential election following the death of his father, Omar, who had ruled the tiny oil-rich state for 41 years.

Gabon's electoral commission members fiercely debated the count for Haut-Ogooue, the heartland of Bongo's Teke ethnic group, which the opposition claims was inflated to give Bongo a victory. According to the interior ministry, turnout in the other provinces varied between 45 percent and 71 percent.

"Common sense would command a recount of the ballots", Valls said.

"The integrity of the provisional results for this province is consequently put into question", said Mariya Gabriel, the EU's chief observer of the polls.

There is worry that could also be a flashpoint for the oil-rich country.

"About 15 French citizens are now missing in Gabon, many of whom carry dual citizenship".

Internet has been cut since August 31, and returned only for brief periods of time Monday.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls suggested on Tuesday that a recount of the vote would be wise.

The move came just hours after Justice Minister Seraphin Moundounga, who is also a deputy prime minister, resigned late Monday, demanding "a recount of the votes, polling station by polling station, and registry by registry".

The African Union has offered to help both sides find a solution quickly.

More than 1,000 people have been detained in the unrest.

The opposition's estimate of 50 to 100 killed in the protests is based on reports from residents around the country, Ping's spokesman, Jean Gaspard Ntoutoume Ayi, told The Associated Press.

"It is clear that the government is hiding the true toll", Ntoutoume Ayi said.

Gabon last experienced post-electoral violence in 2009 after Bongo succeeded his father, Omar Bongo, who had ruled the country for 42 years. For the protection of AP and its licensors, content may not be copied, altered or redistributed in any form.

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