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Gabon Opposition Parties Boycott Parliamentary Vote


Votera wait in line in front of a polling station on December 17, 2011 in Mouila. Turnout was low as Gabon voted in legislative elections boycotted by part of the opposition in the west African oil state.

Votera wait in line in front of a polling station on December 17, 2011 in Mouila. Turnout was low as Gabon voted in legislative elections boycotted by part of the opposition in the west African oil state.

Voter turnout in Gabon's parliamentary election Saturday appeared low after most opposition parties boycotted the vote.

Opposition parties and civic society groups called for a boycott after the government rejected their request to postpone the election until a biometric voter registration system could be introduced. They argue that the system, which uses individual biological data such as fingerprints, could help prevent fraud.

Candidates are vying for 120 seats in the national assembly of the oil-rich west central African nation. The election is expected to keep President Ali Bongo's ruling party in the majority.

The ruling Gabonese Democratic Party, PDG, and its supporters, currently hold a comfortable majority of 98 seats.

About half of Gabon's 1.5 million inhabitants are registered to vote.

The legislative vote is the first since Mr. Bongo's father died two years ago. Omar Bongo ruled Gabon for 41 years.

President Ali Bongo says he is seeking to diversify the country's oil-dependent economy and attract foreign investment. Next year, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea are co-hosting the continent's major football event, the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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