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Gabon's Bongo says election rival cheated

September 7, 2016

Gabon's President Ali Bongo says only the country's highest court can decide if there should be an election recount. The country erupted into violence last week when Bongo was re-elected by a razor-thin margin.

Ali Bongo
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/M. Yalcin

"What people should be asking me to do is apply the law. I cannot violate the law," said Bongo in a pre-recorded interview for France's RTL radio, aired Wednesday.

Bongo, who has been in power since 2009, added: "as far as a recount in concerned... that's done at the level of the Constitutional Court."

His rival Jean Ping has demanded a recount after Bongo won the August 27 polls with a margin of less than two percent, or about 6,000 votes.

Ping has accused the country's Constitutional Court of being under Bongo's influence, and called for help from the international community to reverse the result.

"Everybody knows the result and everybody knows that Bongo is doing everything not to accept it," he told the Reuters news agency on Tuesday.

Street protests

Violence flared for several days after Bongo's re-election was confirmed late on August 31. Several people were killed and around 800 people arrested.

Accusations of voter fraud emerged after Bongo's home province, Haut-Ogooué, saw a 99.9 percent turnout - with more than nine in 10 voters choosing him.

The European Union has questioned the validity of the result while former colonial ruler France has said a recount would be "wise."

In their analysis, the EU election monitors said: "The number of non-voters, as well as blank and disqualified votes, reveals a clear anomaly in the final results in Haut-Ogooue."

Bongo under pressure

But Bongo hit back, accusing observers overlooking irregularities "in the fiefdom of Mr. Ping."

Asked about the possibility of forming a unity government with the opposition, Bongo said it was premature to discuss such a move.

"I will be the president for all Gabonese. I will work with all my compatriots who want to join me in working for the development of the country. But it is difficult to work with those who asked the Gabonese people to go into the streets and loot."

mm/jil (AFP, Reuters)