/ 14 October 2009

Gabon opposition rejects court validation of Bongo win

Gabon’s failed opposition candidates on Wednesday urged mass resistance and rejected a top court’s validation of the contested poll win of Omar Bongo as president of the oil-rich African nation.

“We … express our rejection of these decisions and the disgust that they inspire,” said former prime minister and failed presidential candidate Jean Eyeghe Ndong, head of an opposition coalition that groups four other failed candidates.

The Constitutional Court on Tuesday confirmed Bongo won the election prompted by the death of his father Omar Bongo Ondimba, who had ruled the country for 41 years, confirming he had got 41,79% of the ballot in the August 30 poll.

The court had studied 11 requests from nine candidates and one citizen for the election to be annulled.

In second place with 25,64% of the vote was veteran opposition leader Pierre Mamboundou, who originally had been named third place finisher, the top court said.

Former second-placed contender Andre Mba Obame was relegated to third, with 25,33%.

When the results of the August 30 election were announced in early September, riots shook the country’s economic capital Port-Gentil. The government said five people were killed, while the opposition spoke of up to 15 deaths.

The opposition group on Wednesday said it “exhorts the Gabonese people to fight injustice and other moves aimed at muzzling democracy and undermining its sovereignty”.

But its leaders refused to spell out in concrete terms what their appeal exactly meant.

The coalition also called on “the African Union and other international institutions to revive a terminally ailing Gabon”, and blasted the Constitutional Court’s decision as a “masquerade”.

“The court cannot convince anybody of its good faith,” it said, underlining that the ballot was marred by “massive fraud” and “irregularities”.

Bongo is scheduled to formally take power on Friday. — AFP