/ 30 September 2009

Gabon opposition to boycott presidential vote recount

Gabon’s opposition said on Tuesday it would boycott a vote recount from last month’s presidential election won by longtime leader Omar Bongo Ondimba’s son after negotiations over it broke down.

The Constitutional Court’s recount, scheduled to occur on Tuesday, was postponed to Wednesday after talks with the opposition caused a delay.

Opposition candidates had argued that each should be able to send both a court bailiff and another representative to witness the recount, while the court said only bailiffs would be allowed.

“This recount has no value for us, nor for the truth that we are looking for,” said ex-interior minister Andre Mba Obame, who finished second in the vote.

He said court officials told the candidates a recount according to their conditions could be done at another time, adding “we have confidence in the court”.

Constitutional Court president Marie-Madeleine Mborantsuo said the bailiffs were to act as both officers of the court and representatives of the candidates.

The court “is not a political organ where political figures can come and impose their point of view”, she said.

The main opposition candidates, Mba Obame, who had 25,88% of the vote, and veteran opponent Pierre Mamboundou, who came third with 25,22%, had both hoped the recount would lead to the annulment of Ali Bongo’s election.

They each claim to have won the August 30 poll.

Ali Bongo, whose father died in June after 41 years in power, was proclaimed the winner of the vote with a strong lead of 41,73% of votes cast.

His victory led to unrest in Libreville and three days of rioting and looting in the southwestern oil city of Port-Gentil, where three people were killed, according to an official toll.

The opposition has registered five deaths in Port-Gentil, with a sixth person killed later by security forces. — AFP