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Gabon's top court upholds Ali Bongo's election win

September 24, 2016

Gabon's constitutional court has rejected a challenge by opposition leader Jean Ping. International observers questioned the validity of the results that saw President Ali Bongo re-elected.

Gabun Präsidentenwahl Libreville 27.08.2016 Ali Bongo Ondimba
Image: Getty Images/AFP/M. Longari

The court on Friday threw out Ping's challenge, thereby declaring Bongo's re-election legitimate in spite of international criticism.

Bongo (pictured) was declared the winner of the August 27 election, though he won by a narrow margin - around 5,000 votes. Ping subsequently called on the international community to intervene, claiming the election was "stolen."

Results of the election led to riots in the capital of Libreville, as well as other cities around the country. As many as 1,100 people were arrested during the unrest, and at least six people were reported killed.

The government's justice minister resigned after Bongo's administration refused to release more detailed election results. Meanwhile, EU election monitors questioned the validity of the results from Haut-Ogooue province, which saw a suspiciously high turnout. "The integrity of the provisional results for this province is consequently put into question," said Mariya Gabriel, the EU's chief observer of the polls.

Gabon unrest
Unrest followed Gabon's election resultsImage: Getty Images/AFP/M. Longari

International concern

When reviewing the election results, the court refused to see evidence provided by Ping, including vote tally sheets from Haut-Ogooue. Meanwhile, Bongo's allies submitted evidence countering Ping's claims.

France, the former colonial power of Gabon, also stepped in by calling for a recount. The country has a history of intervening in the affairs of its former colonies, such as when it aided in the removal of Cote d'Ivoire's President Laurent Gbagbo in 2011.

A UN human rights spokesperson said the organization was concerned by the situation in Gabon.

The Bongo family has been in power since the 1960s. Ali Bongo was first elected in 2009 after the death of his father, Omar Bongo.

blc/kl (Reuters, AFP)