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Ali Bongo to be sworn in as Gabon president Tuesday




Ali Bongo will be sworn in on Tuesday as Gabon’s president for a second seven-year term, his office announced, three days after his election victory was controversially validated by the constitutional court.

The ceremony will be held at the seafront presidential palace in Libreville, the presidency told AFP Monday. It gave no details of who had been invited or the time of the event.

Bongo’s victory in the August 27 vote was confirmed on Saturday by the country’s top court, which dismissed opposition claims of vote fraud.

Violence erupted on August 31 after Bongo, 57, was initially declared winner.

Demonstrators set parliament ablaze and clashed with police, who made a thousand arrests.

Opposition figures say more than 50 people were killed. The government has given a toll of three dead.

Jean Ping, 73, Bongo’s main election rival, lashed the court’s ruling as a miscarriage of justice and declared himself “president elect”.

Ping, a career diplomat and a former top official at the African Union, had filed a legal challenge after Bongo was declared winner by a mere 6,000 votes.

Ping had asked for a recount in Haut-Ogooue province, where 95 percent of voters in the Bongo family stronghold were reported to have cast their ballots for the president on a turnout of more than 99 percent.

The Constitutional Court upheld Bongo’s victory and put the winning margin higher at around 11,000 votes.

In its final tally, the court ruled Bongo had won 50.66 percent of the vote (172,990 votes) and Ping 47.24 percent (161,287 votes).

The European Union’s electoral observer mission said Sunday it “regretted” that Gabon’s Constitutional Court “had been unable to satisfactorily rectify anomalies observed during the count”.

Bongo’s family has exercised a long grip on power in the oil- and mineral-rich country of 1.8 million people.

Ali Bongo took over from his father Omar Bongo, who ruled Gabon for 41 years until his death in 2009.

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