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Gabon presidential election ‘lacked transparency’

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Voters queue outside the polling station as the voting operation is delayed, during the presidential election on August 27, 2016 at a school in central Libreville. The people of Gabon began casting their ballots on August 27, 2016 in a vote to decide whether President Ali Bongo will remain in office or be unseated by a career diplomat and close associate of his late father, who ran the country for 41 years. The election takes place in a climate of persistent social unrest driven in large part by the economic impact of the slump in the price of oil, which has long dominated Gabon's economy. / AFP PHOTO / MARCO LONGARI

Voters queue outside the polling station as the voting operation is delayed, during the presidential election on August 27, 2016 at a school in central Libreville. The people of Gabon began casting their ballots on August 27, 2016 in a vote to decide whether President Ali Bongo will remain in office or be unseated by a career diplomat and close associate of his late father, who ran the country for 41 years. The election takes place in a climate of persistent social unrest driven in large part by the economic impact of the slump in the price of oil, which has long dominated Gabon’s economy. / AFP PHOTO / MARCO LONGARI

Gabon’s presidential election “lacked transparency”, the head of the 73-strong EU electoral monitoring team in the country said on Monday, a day before the official results were due out.

“I congratulate Gabon’s voters who have expressed their democratic will in a process that was managed in a way that lacked transparency,” Bulgarian MEP Maryia Gabriel told journalists in the capital, Libreville.

Opposition candidate Jean Ping had earlier accused Cenap, the national election commission that will publish the results of Saturday’s poll, of “manipulation” and tampering with the outcome of the vote in which he sought to unseat the incumbent, Ali Bongo.

“The people of Gabon, who have mobilised massively… and want me to run the country will never accept having the victory, their victory, stolen from them,” he said at his campaign headquarters in Libreville.

“(They) will defend by all means the victory that civil and military hawks now want to steal,” he said, flanked by figures formerly associated with the Bongo regime who have supported his campaign.

Ping also vowed to “guarantee complete security” for Bongo and his family if he stepped down from the presidency and pledged there would not be a “witch hunt” once he had departed.

Ping, 73, worked for many years in the administration of Omar Bongo, Ali’s father. He has also served as head of the African Union and president of the UN General Assembly. He claimed victory on Sunday in front of thousands of his supporters.

Bongo responded by saying that he was “calmly” awaiting the result while his supporters said that it was “dangerous and illegal” to declare a victor before the official announcement.

Presidential spokesman Alain-Claude Bilie-By-Nze claimed that Bongo “was ahead with a lead that could not be overturned”.

Both sides have accused the other of electoral fraud in the bitterly-contested poll.


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GabonMaryia Gabriel
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