Gabon opposition leader files vote fraud complaint with court

Jean Ping

Jean Ping

Gabonese opposition leader Jean Ping on Thursday filed a vote fraud complaint to the country’s highest court following days of deadly clashes over the country’s disputed presidential elections.

Results last week showed incumbent president Ali Bongo beat the veteran diplomat Ping by fewer than 6,000 votes in the August 27 poll.

Bongo has rejected accusations that results were altered to ensure his victory but has come under increasing international pressure to back a recount of votes, including from former colonial power France.

Meanwhile, African Union mediators have delayed until further notice their mission to the country, which was due to start on Friday, Gabon’s Foreign Minister Emmanuel Issoze Ngondet said.

Chad’s President Idriss Deby is the lead mediator but he returned tired from a G20 summit meeting of the world’s top economies in China and so the visit has been delayed, he said. There was no immediate comment from Chad or the African Union.

Ping has repeatedly questioned the neutrality of the court that would rule on a recount.

International criticism of the election has focused on the results from Bongo’s stronghold, the province of Haut-Ogooue, where the participation rate was more than double that of other regions and showed that 95.46 percent of voters backed Bongo.

Bongo’s family has ruled the oil-rich African country for nearly half a century.

The European Union has said it found anomalies in the results from Haut-Ogooue. Sarah Crozier, EU election monitor spokesman, said on Thursday that the official turnout for the province equated to just 47 abstentions out of more than 71,000 registered voters.

France, which has substantial business interests in Gabon, also renewed its call for a recount on Thursday.

“France considers that a transparent, impartial examination of the results of the presidential election is a condition for ending the crisis as it’s the only way to establish the sincerity of the result incontestably,” French foreign ministry spokesman Romain Nadal said.