Opposition leaders file formal complaint over poll

A coalition of candidates who lost to Gabonese president-elect Ali Ben Bongo in last month’s election lodged a complaint with the country’s top court, the politicians said on Thursday.

The group, which includes veteran opposition leader Pierre Mamboundou and former Interior Minister Andre Mba Obame, both of whom scored just over 25 percent, accuse Ben Bongo of rigging the poll to succeed his father as president.

Violence broke out in several towns across Gabon when it was announced that Ben Bongo had won with 41.7 percent of the Aug.  30 vote. However, the demonstrations soon died down and opposition attempts to organise strikes this week failed.

“Today, according to the legal procedures, we presented this official challenge against Ali Ben Bongo’s election,” the group said in a statement in the oil producing country’s capital on Thursday.

The challengers said their experts had found evidence of fraud in 67 percent of the results from polling stations that they had analysed and that the result should be cancelled.

The court has one month to consider the request but a reversal of the poll result would be a surprise. Observers said the election was mostly free and fair.

The opposition candidates also complained that they had seen a letter from Gabon’s foreign ministry inviting diplomats to a ceremony to swear in Ben Bongo on Sept. 21, implying that the court’s decision was irrelevant.

Ben Bongo, 50, has been congratulated by several leaders, including former colonial power France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy, and he has already toured Central Africa shoring up support from other leaders in the region.


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