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.

Gabon lockdown after riots

An uneasy calm has settled across Gabon’s capital Libreville following riots after presidential election results declared Ali Bongo the winner.

The poll was sparked by the death of Ali’s father, Omar, who ruled Gabon for 41 years.

Furious opposition parties claimed the poll was rigged which led to clashes with security forces. Gabon had to impose a night time curfew in its second city Port Gentil

But the President-elect’s supporters deny all claims of fraud and Ali Bongo himself is confident the Constitutional Court will validate the results.

He said: “The competition is now over. There are possibilities to appeal. Those who want to do so have to go to the proper authorities.”

The general situation is calmer today across Gabon after yesterday’s upsurge in violence.

The opposition are appalled that the Bongo family is maintaining its iron grip on the country. Most of Gabon’s citizens are desperately poor despite the country’s oil wealth.

Injury to opposition leader fuels Gabon unrest

Unrest is reported to have intensified in Gabon after election officials gave their verdict on the country’s disputed presidential election.

They confirmed the pre-poll favourite, Ali Ben Bongo had won, delighting his supporters but enraging those of opposition candidates who claim the vote was rigged.

Bongo is the son of the late long-time president, Omar Bongo. His opponents say the family is trying to establish a ruling dynasty in the oil rich west African nation. In recent days there has been rioting in the capital Libreville and the oil city of Port Gentil.

The disturbances have been fuelled by reports that one of Bongo’s main rivals, Pierre Mamboundo, had been seriously injured during clashes between security forces and his supporters.

The official results put him in third place, behind Bongo and another opposition leader. One of many people caught up in the trouble accused soldiers of opening fire on protestors. “I never expected anything like this. They started to shoot and a bullet grazed my head. Then I fell to the ground,” he said.

Bongo’s father brought decades of stability to Gabon, but also accusations that he channelled the country’s oil wealth to family and friends.

As well as restoring order, analysts say his son will face a major challenge in diversifying Gabon’s economy as the oil runs out.

Gabon tense ahead of presidential spoll result

Rival candidate in Gabon’s presidential election are claiming victory as counting nears completion.

Preliminary results have been delayed and the authorities have appealed for calm in response to the conflicting victory claims.

Ahead of the vote Ali Ben Bongo was tipped to win and succeed his father Omar Bongo as head of the central African state. He died aged 73 in June, after nearly 42 years at the helm

But his son faced a late surge by the main opposition Pierre Mamboundou, who vowed to prevent a dynastic transfer of power.

The late president is accused by his opponents of having lavished the country’s oil wealth on family and friends. He was under investigation at the time of his death.

Analysts say any successor will have to cope with dwindling oil reserves that account for half of the former French colony’s output. Gabon has exported oil since the 1960s but much of the country has seen little benefit. About one-third of Gabonese live in poverty.

Gabon votes for new leader

Voters in Gabon have been electing a successor to President Omar Bongo who died in June after leading his country for 41 years.

The late leader’s son, 50-year-old Ali Ben Bongo, candidate for the ruling Gabonese Democratic party, thePDG, is favourite to succeed him. Bongo has pledged a return to the level of prosperity the nation enjoyed during his father’s stint in charge.

Tension remained high as 3,000 polling booths across the country were put under guard. At least one man with an illegal voting guard was saved from a lynch mob in the capital Libreville.

Gabon is sub-Saharan Africa’s fourth biggest oil producer although most of its 1.4 million people live in poverty.

Ali Ben Bongo, a former defence minister in his father’s regime, looked set for an easy victory until the fractured opposition formed a united front under Andre Mba Obame, to challenge him.

At least five out of 23 opposition candidates have pulled out of the contest and pledged to back Obame.

Bongo Jnr favourite for Gabon election

A crowded pack of challengers is lined up for tomorrow’s presidential elections in the west African state of Gabon. The race is on to succeed Omar Bongo, who ruled the oil-rich country for 40 years until his death in June. His son, Ali, is the favourite, although several rivals have united behind one candidate in the hope of stopping the younger Bongo’s accession. He, though, remains optimistic:

“You’re going to take the electoral list, and there you’ll find my picture,” said Ali. “I will be in a suit and tie, looking very presidential.”

Ali’s father Omar had good relations with foreign investors, but he is accused of lining his own pockets rather than using Gabon’s oil wealth to help the poor.

The large number of candidates may split the opposition, but the former Interior Minister Andre Mba Obame has at least succeeded in persuading five other challengers to pull out and support his campaign.

Gabon’s electoral system is rare in that the Presidency is decided in a single round. The winner need not even pass 50 per cent, but will be elected by a simple majority.