Gabon: Ali Bongo wins re-election as president

Protests erupt as supporters of presidential challenger Jean Ping say the vote was “stolen”.

Gabon's President Ali Bongo [Reuters]
Gabon’s President Ali Bongo [Reuters]
Gabon’s interior ministry has declared incumbent President Ali Bongo as the winner of the country’s closely-fought presidential race.

Interior Minister Pacome Moubelet Boubeya said on Wednesday that Bongo had won 49.80 percent percent of the vote and rival candidate Jean Ping had won 48.23 percent.

Election commission members belonging to the opposition denounced the vote, which one commissioner for Ping’s party, Paul Marie Gondjout, said was “stolen”.

Catherine Soi, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in the capital Libreville, said Ping’s camp has rejected the result.

“They say they will not accept this result at all,” Soi said.

“Protests have started. Protests are expected to continue,” she said, adding that what appeared to be clouds of tear gas and smoke could be seen over parts of the city.

“Jean Ping has been telling his supporters not to accept a vote that is not favourable to him…. He is telling his people to defend their vote, to defend their choice.”

Security forces used tear gas and stun grenades against protesters shouting “Ali must go!” who tried to reach the headquarters of the election commission in Libreville, AFP news agency reported.

Second term

Bongo, 57, has now won a second term as head of the tiny oil-rich state previously ruled for 41 years by his father, Omar.

In 2009, Bongo was declared winner of the presidential election after his father’s death. The result was disputed and in the ensuing clashes several people were killed, buildings looted and the French consulate in the economic capital Port-Gentil was torched.

Prior to becoming Bongo’s bitter rival, Ping, a 73-year-old career diplomat well-known on the international scene, worked with Bongo senior for many years.

The European Union, which monitored the election, has called for Gabon to publish “detailed results” for every polling station and urged all actors to help keep the peace.

“We invite all stakeholders to exercise restraint, work to maintain civil peace in the post-electoral context and make use of legal channels to resolve any dispute,” the EU said.

*Al Jazeera

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