Gabon president vows to ′calmly′ await election results as opposition predicts victory | News | DW | 28.08.2016
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Gabon president vows to 'calmly' await election results as opposition predicts victory

Ahead of the official results, the main opposition candidate Jean Ping has claimed the Gabon presidential election. Many fear a repeat of the violence seen in 2009 following President Ali Bongo's election.

Opposition candidate Jean Ping said Sunday that results showed him winning Gabon's presidential election, ahead of current the president, Ali Bongo, whose family has ruled the tiny, oil-producing nation for half a century.

"I have been elected. I am waiting for the outgoing president to call to congratulate me," said Ping, 73, in the capital Libreville, prompting jubilation from hundreds of his supporters.

"Ping president!" they chanted.

Despite Ping's optimism, Interior Minister Pacome Moubelet Boubeya said official results would be released on Tuesday afternoon and stressed it was "illegal to declare results before the relevant authorities do."

Ali Bongo

President Ali Bongo's family has ruled the tiny, oil-producing nation for half a century

Bongo told his supporters on Sunday that he was "waiting calmly for Cenap (the national election commission) to announce the results of the election."

Family affair

President Bongo has been in office since 2009, when he won an election after the death of his father, Omar Bongo Ondimba, an autocrat who ruled the country for 42 years.

Theson emerged as the most successful candidate in the 2009 poll, clearly outpacing his rivals. The opposition alleged that the vote had been marred by irregularities, but their appeal to the Constitutional Court was unsuccessful.

Uncertain support

Until recently, Bongo was far and away the favorite, largely because several prominent politicians had joined the race, diluting the opposition's ticket. But protracted talks led all the key challengers to pull out and support Ping.

The campaign ahead of this weekend's election has been highly acrimonious, with both sides having accused each other of trying to buy voter cards, in some cases for as little as 10,000 Central African francs (15.25 euros, $17) a piece.

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High hopes for Gabon's economy after election

Many voters also decided to stay indoors this weekend over fears of a repeat of the violence seen after Bongo's 2009 election. In Gabon's capital, the streets of Libreville were deserted and shops which usually open on Sundays were shuttered.

One third of Gabon in poverty

According to World Bank figures from 2013, Gabon has a population of 1.7 million. Due to its oil wealth, it has one of the highest per capita incomes in Africa at $11,500 (10,200 euros) - that's almost four times that of Nigeria ($3,000), Africa's biggest economy. But revenue from oil, wood and mineral exports lands mostly in the pockets of a small political elite.

Despite the high per capita income, a third of Gabon's population live in poverty, and unemployment among young people stands at 35 percent, according to the World Bank.

About 628,000 of Gabon's inhabitants were eligible to vote in this weekend's election. The result will be decided in a single round by a simple majority.

ksb/jlw (AFP, AP, dpa)

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