Embattled Gabonese President Lashes Out at EU Over Election Criticism

September 12, 2016 at 06:24 am | News

Fredrick Ngugi

Fredrick Ngugi | Contributor

September 12, 2016 at 06:24 am | News

Gabonese President Ali Bongo. Today

Besieged Gabonese President Ali Bongo has rejected calls by European Union election observers for a recount for the disputed presidential vote in this month’s election, Al Jazeera reports.

This follows a report by an EU mission on the August 27th election, revealing that there were serious anomalies in voting in Haut-Ogooue province – one of President Bongo’s strongholds.

The official results indicated that the province recorded 99 percent voter turnout with Bongo garnering 95 percent of the vote.

Yet, the president has dismissed EU’s calls for a recount, insisting that only the country’s top court has the right to make that demand.

“I would also have liked them to have noted some anomalies in the fiefdom of [opposition leader Jean] Ping. If we are raising anomalies, we have to be clear, balanced, and raise all anomalies that have been noted,” Bongo said last Wednesday.

Respect the Law?

Despite the mounting pressure for a vote recount — even from members of his own cabinet — President Bongo, whose family has ruled Gabon for 49 years, insists that everyone should respect the constitution.

The election results saw opposition supporters engage the police in running battles for the better part of last week, where at least seven people were reported dead and many others injured.

“What people should be asking me to do is apply the law. I cannot violate the law. As far as a recount is concerned…that’s done at the level of the Constitutional Court,” Bongo added.

Ping is yet to challenge Bongo’s re-election at the Constitutional Court, instead he has called for nationwide protests.

Constitutionally, the deadline for filing an election petition in the Constitutional Court ended Thursday at 15:00 GMT.

In what seems to be an attempt to counter Ping’s accusations, President Bongo is accusing the opposition candidate of committing election “fraud” with the help of “cyber criminals.”

He also said it would be difficult for him to sit down with “people who ask Gabonese to go in to the street to loot and destroy and burn things.”

Gabon’s parliament in Libreville, the country’s capital city, was set ablaze by opposition protesters in last week’s post-election riot.

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